A graffiti friendly town?

Unlike other cities that take the prompt removal of graffiti seriously, the City of Norfolk (the Norfolk City Government, that is) allowed so-called love locks and other forms of graffiti to fester unchecked on the old Hague pedestrian bridge, a public bridge that is the iconic gateway to Ghent. Local graffiti artists even plied their genre atop the gutted old Sears Roebuck warehouse that overlooks busy Brambleton Avenue and the Hague — in other words, an eyesore on top of an eyesore.

For months in 2014 a big de facto "come scribble here" sign welcomed motorists on Branbleton Avenue to downtown Norfolk:

Was it hip new language only the in-crowd could read? Or was its very unintelligibility a jab in itself? Or was this "street art," just as is much other modern art, simply inaccessible to the masses? Maybe some contemporary American art expert at the Chrysler Museum could opine on the matter...


An Experiment

Even though this graffiti was plainly visible from Brambleton Avenue, one of the most heavily travelled thoroughfares through downtown, we assumed the Norfolk City Government knew nothing about it, since it was still there. So on January 12, 2015, we informed the Norfolk City Governement of this graffiti's existence via the Norfolk Cares Assistance Center (757-664-6510), then waited to see now how long it would take for anything to be done.

Norfolk's Stated Graffiti Removal Policy



By January 26th — in the same month, same year even — the graffiti was gone. The place looked like a pristine old has-been warehouse again, howbeit with a bunch of holes chopped into its walls (the beginnings of future windows):



Oops, Graffiti Central!

Well, it looked "pristine" for about a month and a half. Then a succession of graffiti masterpieces followed, one on top of the other, 'cuz if you don't keep them from their canvas, graffiti artists have this obsession:






An interim partial paint over:




Graffiti problem permanently solved!

With the old warehouse finally renovated and renting out apartments, the graffiti seems gone for good:


"The Roebuck," now a fine new-looking building:


Spiffy "industrial chic" apartments with expansive windows and very nice views:


The Hague as seen from the roof:


Downtown Norfolk from the roof:


Repurposing Rudolph:


Graffiti with real staying power

That would be the "love locks" on the Hague pedestrian bridge. Yes, they are indeed a form of graffiti, even according to Norfolk's own City Code, which states that graffiti is graffiti no matter how it is affixed (as in locked!) to a surface or structure. Think tagging the bridge with a padlock (bearing whatever "amorous" inscription or whatever else you like to call your graffiti).

Padlocks are also a form of "obstruction," which is illegal to place in a public right of way (which the bridge is). Even something as insubstantial as a sticker is considered such an obstruction by the Norfolk City Code of Ordinances. See Section 42-10(b) "Encroachments and Obstructions."


Even though the word graffiti comes from the Italian graffio meaning "a scratch," graffiti can be sundry things. For example, "yarn bombing" (covering a structure with knitted yarn) is a type of graffiti. So are "love locks." But the yarn bombing on the Hague pedestrian bridge, probably thanks to the fact that it wasn't locked to the bridge, was quite short lived:


Only after the Norfolk Circuit Court reminded the City of Norfolk that the locks were not legal did it finally remove them:



Graffiti with a message?

Then this appeared next to the bridge: Something from the Sixties? Maybe something from Trump world? Or maybe more likely, since the old bridge was already tagged and trashed with the shabby locks, just more mindless vandalism spilling over? It took the City over twenty days to get around to removing this graffiti:



Chalk Graffiti

Who cares? It washes away with the next rain:


Off course, some limits might be in order:


Then there's the commercial motive:



Now, Residential Graffiti

Inevitably, the blight spread to residential properties:


More mischief by the "artist" known as "Bump"?


Now the City's right on it:

Notice from the City to residents victimized by graffiti. Note that the victim is given five days to remove the graffiti, even though the City (as with the above noted graffiti next to the Hague bridge) can take much longer to remove it from public property:





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