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Clean Ups & Graffiti removal
GRAFFITI REMOVAL Erase It for Good Graffiti doesn't have to be a fact of modern life. With its "Graffiti Blasters" and "Give Graffiti a Brush" programs, the City of Chicago first declared war on unsightly scrawlings on both public and private property. In April 1995, the city began enforcing a ban on sales of spray paint within the city borders. Working with the city, neighborhood volunteers have been the heroes in this war.
Blast Your Neighborhood Clean
Within hours of being spray painted with racially offensive graffiti, a brick and stone high school was blasted clean by city crews. It only took a phone call for graffiti blasters to move quickly to eliminate traces of hate-crime graffiti from public property.
You also may report vandals with a free cellular call to *GRAF*. Report graffiti as soon as you see it on public property, especially repeat performances on previously scrubbed buildings. The city has found that vandals move on when a building is cleanedrepeatedly. Request brochures from the anti-graffiti hotline to circulate to building owners in your neighborhood. The brochures contain permission forms that authorize the city to enter private property and remove graffiti. Urge building owners to take advantage of this free cleanup from the city.
Paint Over the Scrawlings Armed with free gallons of paint, community groups all over the city have painted over graffiti on wood and painted surfaces. In five years, volunteers have brushed more than 40,000 gallons of city-donated paint on private property for special "paint-out" events.
"Give Graffiti the Brush" Call the hotline above about "Give Graffiti the Brush." Using free paint from the city, host a "paint-out" in your neighborhood.
Light Up the Darkness Residents on neighborhood watch patrols regularly call the city when street light bulbs are out. Well-lighted areas deter graffiti vandals and other criminals. Fix Burned
Out or Broken Lights The city regularly changes the bulbs in Chicago's 175,000 street lights and 59,200 alley lights, but you should report problems by calling 312-744-5000. Let the city know if trees around lights need trimming. If you feel you need more city lighting, contact your alderman.
SAFETY MEASURES: Eliminate Home and Neighborhood Hazards All of us value safety. Sometimes what seems annoying but harmless--a leaf-clogged sewer or someone dumping his car's used oil in the gutter--can be downright dangerous. Neighbors can educate each other about these hazards.
Send Rodents Packing A local block club worked hard to eliminate rats. The group, which had been inactive until residents started talking to each other about their rat problems, worked with the city to replace local garbage carts and set poison in underground burrows. On its own, the block club sent out flyers urging residents to keep garbage under wraps and clean up after pets. A spring clean up further helped eliminate the rodents' shelter among litter and junk.
Starve Them Out of Existence Neighborhoods can combat rodent infestations through education. Basically, people need to know how to deny rats food. One open container of garbage is all that's needed to keep a colony of rats fat and happy. Keep garbage in secure containers, not in bags or boxes on the ground. Carefully pick up pet droppings, which hungry rats view as food. Ask the city to set poison in rat tunnels and tear down abandoned frame garages or brick buildings, both of which provide nesting space for rats. To schedule a rodent control expert to speak at a community meeting, report rat sightings, or seek help from the city, call 312-744-5000 (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf, 312-744-8599).
Get Used Motor Oil Off Your Hands As part of a multi-faceted neighborhood spring cleanup, a service station on the North Side used flyers to promote its free collection of used motor oil. The station did a land-office business that day. Boosting awareness of this year-round free service increased traffic for the service station over the long term and helped the neighborhood curb the dumping of a potentially dangerous substance into sewers and on the ground.
Call for Participating Stations More than 50 service stations throughout Chicago will dispose of used motor oil for free. More than 60 percent of Chicagoans change their own oil, and, unfortunately, more than 2 million gallons find their way into our sewers and ground each year. Alert your neighbors to this service. After draining oil from your car's engine, put it in a clean container with a cap, such as a milk jug. Bring no more than 5 gallons of oil at a time to each station. Get a list of participating stations by calling the City of Chicago's Department of Environment, 312-744-7606.
Dispose of Hazardous Wastes Safely
Before moving to an apartment across town, an older couple rounded up all the old paint, drain cleaner, wood stripper, and antifreeze they had collected over many years of maintaining a home and car. They drove the items to the city's twice-a-year Household Hazardous Waste Collection Days so they didn't have to move the chemicals or pay a private waste hauler to take them away.
Twice a Year Collections The City of Chicago Department of Environment makes it easy for Chicagoans to get rid of their hazardous wastes--from old gasoline to pesticides--by holding a collection day each spring and fall. Call 312-744-7606 for dates and locations.
Report Illegal Housing Conversions Many of the tragic fires we see on the evening news happen in former single-family homes. The wiring is overloaded by the demands of several families under one roof, and there are no fire exits or smoke detectors. The neighbors may have seen evidence of many families--multiple cars parked nearby, numerous mailboxes and doorbells--but didn't think it was any of their business. Community groups are beginning to make it their business for safety reasons.
Call for Safety's Sake Disregarding city zoning and building rules, property owners often convert single-family homes into boarding houses, sleeping room facilities, and other multiple-dwelling uses. These illegal conversions are dangerous to residents as well as their neighbors because of the strain on electrical, plumbing, and ventilation systems and the usual lack of fire exits, sprinkler systems, and smoke detectors. If you spot evidence of many unrelated people living together, call 312-744-5000 (TDD, 312-744-8599). The Illegal Conversion Task Force will investigate, issue citations, file lawsuits, and shut down the units, if necessary, to protect people.
Keep Sewers Free of Debris A man left his car parked on the street over a sewer grate clogged with leaves and wrappers from a local fast food place. During a torrential storm, the water could not drain for hours. Water was still puddled inside the man's car when he came out the next morning to go to work. He let his community group know of his mishap at the next meeting, and the citizen crime patrol group decided to check and clear sewer grates as the teams made their rounds.Educate to Prevent Clogs The city cleans sewer catch basins and gutter boxes on a regular basis. If you are doing a neighborhood clean up, clear these sewer grates of obstructions yourself. Educate your neighbors so that no one dumps leaves, grass clippings, motor oil, or anything else poisonous or bulky down the sewer. For information, call 312-747-7030 (Telecommunica-tions Device for the Deaf, 312-744-2952) during business hours. To report a sewer problem, call 312-744-5000 24 hours a day.
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