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De Blasio Administration Not Pleased With Report Saying Anti-Graffiti Efforts Are Too Slow

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The de Blasio administration was pushing back Thursday evening after a report critical of its anti-graffiti efforts.

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, the administration is understandably sensitive to complaints that quality of life has diminished on Mayor Bill de Blasio's watch, and graffiti is certainly a major quality of life concern.

Now, there is a new report out saying the time between the city receiving a graffiti complaint and cleaning up the graffiti has increased substantially.

It is impossible to imagine New York City without graffiti, but many residents would prefer much less of it.

"Nobody is paying attention to anything anymore," said Awilda Ortiz of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. "Even when they call, they take too long to show up."

Indeed, a new report is critical of response times for the Graffiti-Free NYC program. City workers are using solvent to dissolve and power spray to wash away graffiti.

Three years ago, the average time between complaint and cleanup was 67 days. Last year, that grew to 114 days – far too long for critics.

Among those critics is state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens).

"The whole way to address graffiti is to paint over and remove it, immediately. You've got to go immediately," Avella said. "So that's totally unacceptable. It defeats the whole purpose of the program."

The independent budget office report said it appears frustrated building owners are taking matters into their own hands.

In 2011, 84 percent of graffiti complaints resulted in graffiti removal. But last year, that number dropped to 62 percent.

Increasingly, when crews show up to paint over the graffiti they find someone else has already done it.

Graffiti-Free NYC is run by the city's Economic Development Corporation, Anthony Hogrebe is the chief spokesman. While the report says wait times for graffiti blasting now top 100 days, Hogrebe questioned the accuracy of that statistic.

"It's not the most accurate way to look at how effective the program has been to look at those average response times," he said.

The EDC said graffiti removal teams cleaned up 6 million square feet last year, compared with 4.3 million in 2014.

The agency blames the increase in response times on graffiti in difficult-to-reach places. Those complaints can sit in the system for years.

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