Ah, City Councilman Peter "I hate graffiti" Vallone weighs in on the chalk "graffiti" made by 6-year-old Natalie Shea on her home's front stoop. Back in 2005, Vallone introduced the law that requires property owners to clean up graffiti, so when a neighbor called 311 to complain about Natalie's drawings (again, mind you, on her own stoop, not a neighbor's stoop), her parents got a warning letter from the Department of Sanitation.
The Daily News got his reaction: "It was never the intent of my law to capture chalk drawings on the sidewalk. I would hope this type of misunderstanding doesn't happen again." Um, seems unlikely, as this was the DOS's standard procedure:
Sanitation Department spokeswoman Kathy Dawkins said while the department "does not consider a child's chalk drawing to be graffiti," the form letter is mailed after all complaints about graffiti to 311.
"If people call and complain, we have to follow it up; we have to respond," she said.
A property owner typically has 45 days to clean the markings or send a letter to the Sanitation Department saying they have no problem with the markings on their property, Dawkins said.
If there's no response, the Sanitation Department sends a inspector to see if the property has been cleaned.
And Natalie's mother Jen Pepperman said, "I'm a good New Yorker. I like to obey the rules. If it's really illegal for Natalie to use chalk on her own stoop, if that's really upsetting to Mayor [Bloomberg], I will comply."
The city has an anti-graffiti initiative, which includes the NYPD's Citywide Vandals Task Force. And when the Astor Place Cube was chalked in April 2006, the police arrested some of the perpetrators. Of course, it didn't help that one of them had a ball of heroin on them.
Photograph of chalk "grafitti" by an almost 2-year-old; do they have juvenile detention for toddlers?