Taggers to pay for graffiti cleanup

Repeat graffiti offenders in San Francisco might want start cleaning up their act — or face steep cleanup costs.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed legislation Tuesday that would allow the City Attorney’s office to file civil lawsuits against graffiti offenders who continue to tag City and private property.

Taggers would pay for any costs associated with cleaning up the graffiti or serve community service.

Supervisor London Breed, who introduced the legislation in March, said the legislation would hold offenders accountable and improves the way The City deals with graffiti:

“Fundamentally the legislation improves how we collect and process graffiti evidence and it enables our City Attorney to use that evidence to file civil lawsuits against the worst and repeat offenders.”

Employees from several city departments including the San Francisco Police Department, Department of Public Works, Recreation and Parks Department and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will help capture some of the graffiti tags using smartphones and sending the photos to SF 311.

The photos then would be sent to the police department for further analyzing and placed into a database. The City Attorney would use the data from the police department to go after serial graffiti offenders.

The City spends approximately $20 million a year in graffiti abatement, said Breed. The SFMTA alone spends $15 million a year cleaning up graffiti on its Muni vehicles.

Part of the legislation also includes banning recently-convicted graffiti offenders from boarding Muni vehicles or entering City parks with spray paint, etching tools and slap tags.

Breed said other cities with similar programs have seen a drop in graffiti costs and hopes The City can do the same:

“We can all look forward to the day when we reduce the graffiti offenses in our City so that our City can stay beautiful and graffiti free.”

As a formality, supervisors will take a second vote on the legislation at their next board meeting.