CRP has been an active in the structure to develop coherent, holistic abatement policies in several cities throughout the Bay Area.
A holistic abatement strategy includes murals as a long-term solution to vandalism, community clean-up and local ownership of formerly blighted areas, the planting of community gardens; youth involvement, employment and leadership; the enforcement of city blight standards, the capacity of community groups and individuals to Adopt-A-Wall, and the coordination between Public Works, Public Art and the Art Commission.
Unlike museums and art galleries, public art exists on public space. It’s accessible to everybody and has no restrictions on viewership. This has obvious benefits in that public art creates a sense of identity and community involvement, as well as inspiration, for residents from all types of social and economic backgrounds. Public art also reduces urban blight—a problem of epidemic proportions in inner-city neighborhoods—and promotes civic pride, nonviolence, and youth development. Unfortunately, public art, particularly mural art, is frequently not respected as much as it should be. Murals are often subject to abatement without authorized DPW work orders, in many cases resulting in the destruction of commissioned, legal works.
This practice is at cross-purposes with a progressive, forward-thinking abatement strategy which doesn’t automatically assume every piece of public art is “illegal graffiti.” Adopting a more holistic approach to abatement which promotes synergy among city departments and the communities they operate in while upholding the value of legal, commissioned, public art is a smart abatement strategy.