Most major metropolitan cities in the U.S. are constantly dealing with the problem of graffiti. The issue of graffiti could possibly promote a false perception that the laws protecting public and private property can be blatantly disregarded, resulting in an increase in crime, urban decay, and detriment to the enjoyment of life. These acts of graffiti, if not cleaned, repaired or deterred in a timely manner, can also give way to additional unwanted markings in the surrounding area.
Instances of graffiti are most often the result of various gangs posting the physical limits of their “turf”. These publicly displayed messages also serve as a type of warning to other rival gangs to stay out of their neighborhood. These messages usually incur further graffiti from the would-be rivals. Other acts of graffiti are of the so-called underground “street art” scene, whose canvasses blanket public and private property with various designs or murals intended to be seen by the public. Both types of graffiti, however, involve the same level of criminal charges and consequences, despite their dissimilar intent.
Each year, cities are faced with this crime challenge, and it costs cities unspeakable amounts. Take for instance the city of San Francisco, which spends more than $20 million to clean up graffiti found on public property. In 2017 alone, the San Francisco Public Works department responded to approximately 35,398 service requests involving instances of graffiti, and that number is expected to climb by the end of 2018.
Because the crime of graffiti is such a large problem, San Francisco city-council members recently passed an anti-graffiti ordinance requiring property owners to clean up graffiti on their property within thirty days. If this time frame isn’t met, those property owners face stiff fines for violating the statutes outlined in the ordinance, further adding to the overall cost incurred by graffiti abatement.
Graffiti costs cities and property owners high amounts of both dollars and resources, which could be used to help the community instead.