Mayor Autry's Recommended Changes To City Graffiti Ordinance

Graffiti is far more than a visual annoyance or inconvenience that we simply “spray over” and be done with. Graffiti is a gateway crime that often leads to gang and other criminal activity. Graffiti adversely affects our sense of pride and safety and its eradication must be a city wide priority that will require a collective effort. A successful war on graffiti will require a community wide approach that includes the City of Fresno, volunteers from faith based and other non-profit organizations, and local businesses. That is why the Fresno Chamber of Commerce supports the recommended changes to the City Graffiti Ordinance. They realize that the fight against graffiti will require a community wide, team approach and that local businesses can play an important role in this effort.

The recommended change of requiring graffiti to be removed within 24 hours, rather than the current 48 hours, is important in providing our community with a sense of safety and pride. No one wants to live in a neighborhood or frequent businesses that are marred with graffiti. Graffiti is a cancer, and if left untreated, will negatively effect that health of our neighborhoods and the lives of the families that live their. And just like cancer, graffiti will spread to other parts of our community if not treated quickly and aggressively.

Recent media reports have painted this Ordinance as punishing businesses and Council President Duncan stated that he sees it as a “money maker” for the City. Both of these are completely unfounded and do a tremendous disservice to the efforts to eradicate graffiti from our community. What both of them failed to mention is that the City will provide, at no costto local businesses, the materials and information necessary to initiate their own graffiti abatement program similar to those already established in various neighborhoods by the faith based and non profit organizations. They also failed to note that the only time that the City would seek to recover the cost of removing the graffiti would be when a business refuses to comply with a request by the City to have the graffiti removed.

It’s important to note that in FY06 the City of Fresno allocated more than $1.6 toward the fight against graffiti, including $250,000 that was provided to local faith based and other non profits that have used these resources to purchase materials and supplies needed to implement neighborhood graffiti abatement programs. During the same period of time the number of graffiti related calls to the City’s graffiti hot line and Call Center doubled.

Even though the budget I proposed for this year increase the amount of funding for graffiti abatement by another $331,000 for a total of more than $1.9 million dollars, the number of graffiti calls received in FY07 will likely continue to increase to the point in which City crews could easily spend all of their time removing graffiti from residential areas and/or other public facilities exclusively.

The recommended changes to the existing graffiti ordinance are meant to reflect this reality and the recognition that, as has been the case with local volunteer programs, the war on graffiti will require all of the community’s involvement and support.

Andrew T. Souza , City Manager
Contact: Rhonda Jorn, Public Affairs Officer: (559) 621-7777

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