South Bay cracking down on graffiti

February 25, 2008 7:50:52 PM PST
People who leave their mark with graffiti are at it again in the South Bay. On Monday night, leaders in San Jose and Santa Clara County are pooled their resources to do something about it.

A full scale graffiti clean up is underway in San Jose. The one leading the effort is Mayor Chuck Reed.

"The numbers of tags has gone up, so we're going to fight back. We're going to knock the numbers down again as we have in the past," says Reed.

City leaders are turning to the past for guidance during this week long, anti graffiti community program. Mayor Susan Hammer led the movement in the 90s and taggings dropped by half, from 70,000 to 35,000.

But recently, the number jumped back up. In January alone, city crews cleared 43,000 taggings.

"There are times where it is one a week, then you go for spurts with three or four months, nothing at all," says Clyde Virges, African American Community Service Agency.

Monday happened to be one of those days. Someone tagged the African American Community Service Agency over night. Many downtown business owners think the solution is more enforcement. The graffiti unit is made up of just two officers.

"Graffiti vandalism is becoming a more popular enterprise with kids. It's been picked up by pop culture. I think it's a contributing factor," says Erik Hove, San Jose Police Department.

There's also the issue of focus. Even the DA admits, once the city got the graffiti problem under control, they re-allocated their efforts to combat litter instead.

The last time this type of collaboration existed was back in 2005. That's also when the penalty for teenagers caught vandalizing was stricter. They used to get 66 hours of community service. Now, it's 24.

Officials are re-evaluating the punishment for taggers, who may be required to clean up the neighborhoods they vandalized. In the meantime, the responsibility for cleanliness still falls on the property owner.


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