One voter says, ‘Hi, when I show people around Wellington I feel really ashamed of how our beautiful city has been covered in graffiti.’ And she is right. So what can we do?
I responded in an email:
You are right, and believe it or not, $500,000 of our rates are going toward the cleaning and we’ve little to show for it. It’s worsened over the last few years.
There are some basic things we can do, but they won’t stop the problem. Let me get those out of the way first, just out of completeness’ sake, because residents have told me they’d like to see these in place.
Spray paint buyers could provide ID when buying, and I notice Eastern Ward council candidate Sarah Free proposes that sellers should even record the colour and date of purchase. I’d certainly support a bylaw for the ID requirement.
Shop owners are telling me that it’s not just graffiti, it’s glass-scratchers. They’re going to huge expense replacing the glass.
I understand from police that it’s difficult to identify the offenders but the few that we do catch, I support having them come and clean up their own mess along with doing community service.
Now, all of the above are things we can do after the fact. What we really need to do is make sure young people (most taggers are 22â€“23) don’t commit these crimes in the first place.
So here are my solutions.
It’s no surprise that this happens more during a recession. Two main reasons these young people spray graffiti are: creativity (21Â·6 per cent); and believing in “celebrity” (15Â·7 per cent).
This is why I emphasized youth in some of my policies. I put these in to my manifesto back in April, three to four months before my opponents even had theirs. Youth unemployment is shockingly high in Wellingtonâ€”if you only look at 15â€“19, it’s 25 per cent. But if we provide them with apprenticeships (Dunedin City Council is already doing this) and internships, then they will be able to see that they can have a proper career path.
Wellington businesses are telling me they are finding it hard to get talent, including the creative industries, and if some of these taggers are frustrated creatives or people who want their name “in lights”, let’s make them do things that benefit our economy.
I’d rather spend [a chunk of] the $500,000 on the apprenticeship programme instead. I mention this as I’m not one to make election promises that we can’t pay for as a city.
We publicize these programmes and we must include those that have an artistic component to them, and target the areas in our city that fall foul to graffiti the most.
We recognize their issue that there aren’t jobs, and show them that they can apply their talents legitimately. Those businesses that want artists can get them; and the young people understand they can have a future.
It’s not a perfect solution, but I’m all about targeting root causes rather than applying Band-Aids.
This has the added effect of stopping some of the drunkenness as wellâ€”which is also socioeconomic and partly culturalâ€”so we have a more palatable Courtenay Place and entertainment district. In effect, all this leads to a more presentable, liveable and prouder city.
People have rightly asked me my positions on transport, the environment, the Basin Reserve flyover, and libraries.
These werenâ€™t put in my manifesto in April 2013 because I expected that candidates (whomever they might beâ€”since only Dr Keith Johnson had declared then) would have largely the same views on them. I was wrong.
Transport: I support greater public transport use. I advocate for a graphical app that shows where a bus or train is, live, on a smartphone, to make things more predictable. I support cycleways, and am most interested in Martin Hanleyâ€™s proposal to preserve as many parking spaces as possibleâ€”though additional driver training would be important. WCCâ€™s budget for cycling should be increased given that there are more Wellingtonians using this mode.
In 2010, I was not in favour of the Basin Reserve flyover because I had always believed that teleworking, staggering the hours at which we could arrive at and leave work, would be a far more sensible solution. The more roads you build, the more congestion youâ€™ll get. This is the Downsâ€“Thomson paradox, and itâ€™s covered in my release here. However, the city appears to have been outplayed on this by NZTA and my instinct is that the flyover is proceeding.
On libraries: I am against cuts in library funding, especially as we can find ways to fund them. With my policies on joint software licensing and looking at open source, we can get money in the kitty for them. Libraries are evolving, and we need to look at mixed use, and having no limits on wifi for educational sites. I am a regular user, and I would like other Wellingtonians to benefit from our libraries.
On the environment, Iâ€™ve signed a pledge to Generation Zero but even without it, I was an advocate of low-carbon city. When we released Beyond Branding at the Medinge Group, it was one of the first Carbon Neutral books published. And since 2003, Lucire has been a partner of the United Nations Environment Programme.
I support car-sharing programmes (Medinge gave a Brands with a Conscience award to Flexcar last decade, so we were again ahead of the curve), and solar energy (Iâ€™ve already discussed ideas with Isolar and SolaRoof)â€”particularly trying to find a cost-effective way for homeowners to get into solar power.
I even, dare I say it, believe light rail remains an option provided the cost is right, and there is evidence to suggest the negative experience in Edinburgh was an outlier.
I believe we need to look at the long term, which is why I floated the idea of the long-haul airport being at Paraparaumu post-amalgamation, with a high-speed rail link to the CBD by 2040.
Given that, some of the discussions we are having today about the spine and routes to the airport may remain moot.
You can find more of my position with Generation Zeroâ€™s ideas here. I think I deserve a couple more thumbs-up than they have given me, mind!
The environment, cycleways and pedestrianization were part of the thinking behind the market weekends that already appear in my manifesto, alongside celebrating our city and enjoying a festival atmosphere.