San Francisco Supervisor London Breed introduced legislation at the city’s board of supervisors meeting this afternoon that aims to revamp San Francisco’s graffiti policies while beautifying the city and saving money in clean-up costs.
Ahead of the 2 p.m. meeting at City Hall, Breed stood in front of a Muni bus covered in fake graffiti parked on the west side of Civic Center Plaza to announce her legislation that proposes coming down on repeat offenders vandalizing buildings, buses and other spaces with graffiti.
Breed primarily is looking to take on vandals through civil lawsuits instead of pursuing criminal charges, which she called an ineffective method to change the destructive behavior.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera said at today’s noon news conference that this legislation would hold vandals responsible instead of property owners who usually are tasked with removing the damage and cleaning up graffiti.
“Those denigrating a neighborhood will be held responsible for their handiwork,” Herrera said.
Any caught offenders would have pay for cleaning and get involved in community service. Many vandals are juveniles, according to Breed, who would have to go through programming and have their families pay restitution.
Also as part of Breed’s bill, a number of city agencies including police, Municipal Transportation Agency and Department of Public Works staff would have a streamlined place to collect photographic evidence through a 311 app.
A database of the photos would help police identify serial taggers.
Breed has proposed revising several city codes to ban repeat offenders from bringing graffiti-making materials into parks and onto buses. Some of those items include spray paint, etching tools and slap tags, or stickers that vandals stick onto surfaces and then tag.
According to Breed, the city spends at least $19.4 million per year cleaning up graffiti from public and private spaces.
She said she would like to see more of that money go to other programs. She said graffiti also takes away from the work of legitimate street artists who lawfully decorate the city.
She said her legislation aims to change behavior instead of prosecuting offenders as criminals who then continue to vandalize.
“Our goal is to nip it in the bud,” she said. “Let’s keep our city clean and green and beautiful.”
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News