During the last week of 2005, the Bloomberg administration signed a flurry of new city laws. One of the most controversial changed the way the city deals with graffiti. IndyMedia reports:
The New York City Council has passed three new anti-graffiti bills which Bloomberg is no doubt itching to sign into law. Intro. No. 663-A amends existing law to mandate community service in a graffiti cleanup program as the minimum penalty for getting caught. Another bill announces a new “possesion ban,” making it illegal for anyone under 21 to carry spray paint, inks, or other graffiti supplies on public property.
Those first two mostly extend current laws, but the third moves the city’s law in a new and disturbing direction. Intro No. 299-A requires owners of commercial and residential buildings to remove graffiti from their property within 60 days of its appearance, or face fines. We’ve seen this kind of thing elsewhere in the country, but to my knowledge this is the first mandated-buff law in NYC.
The Daily News got a great quote from Peter Vallone, who sponsored the bill: "We realize these bills push the envelope," Vallone said. "But it's time to get serious. We can no longer let these spray-painting punks use our city as their unmarked canvas." The first two parts of the bill make sense to us-- after all, most people who got busted for graf already got community service, and it's been a crime to sell paint to minors for a number of years. Vallone seems a bit off-base on the last part, though: is it really fair to fine property owners $300 for not cleaning up their gates after they've been graffitied? Doesn't that sort of blame the victim for the crime, and screw over the owner for a second time?