Graffiti near Castle Hill wall leads to extra patrols

The graffiti wall on Castle Hill in west central Austin closed in January, but on Friday, people continued to walk up—only to be blocked by a chain link fence. 

It was a shock for three friends who drove in from Dallas to experience the art work.

"It looks beautiful, we love checking out what we can see but yeah it would be nice to get up there," said Austin Hawkins.

The owner of the land is planning to develop the site. A replacement, the Hope Outdoor Gallery, is being built in Southeast Austin near ABIA, but it's not expected to open until sometime late next year and the disappointment about that is clearly being expressed.

"Yeah it's a shame there is not an outlet that people can still do it on, they are using the pavement instead right now," said James Parsons who was visiting the wall Friday.

Graffiti not only covers the street but is also on curbs, sidewalks and utility poles. A city bridge maintenance crew led by Patti Moreno, along with some volunteers, have clean up duty.

"I just found out about this last week, that was the first time it was brought to our attention, but I've been told by the residents around here that this has been going on for more than two years, and that the Hope Park was assisting them with clean up," said Moreno.

Earlier this week a request was made on the city's Facebook page for the street painting to stop and the hot weather that crews have to work in was noted. 

The three friends from Dallas said the request was not unreasonable.

"Oh yeah that's so not cool. Yeah don't mess with the street. I mean ... I do like the yarn but property damage is not cool," said Connor Braylee.

The painting is not limited to the street in front of the wall. It took city crews about five days to remove the paint below the intersection of Baylor and 11th streets with a pressure washer. No sooner was the site cleaned, the tagging has started up again. It's an example of the frustrating and costly cycle the city is in.

"I'm going to have to do a special treatment on the asphalt to cover up the graffiti because any I try to do to it will ether destroy it or will bleed through," said Moreno.

Moreno went on to say the cleanup work is taking her away from maintaining city bridges which she considers to be pretty important. There will be extra police patrols now and security cameras may be installed. 

"According to APD, the fine can be up to $10,000 and jail time," said Moreno.

The city has an urban art program and it suggested those who are expressing themselves here should avoid the fine and take part in that. 

People who see any trespassing or painting on private or public property are asked to report it by calling 311.