Tuesday, August 19, 2008

County graffiti ordinance to go into effect Sept. 18


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                              CONTACT:  Angie Castro, (213) 703-2823 

                                                                                                                                    Supervisor Gloria Molina 





Molina Goal:  Parent Accountability and Restitution to the County



LOS ANGELES COUNTY (August 19, 2008) – Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina’s Civil Graffiti Ordinance was unanimously approved today and becomes effective September 18 (30 days).  The   Ordinance expands Molina’s graffiti enforcement program and allows for a civil process in addition to the existing criminal procedure.  New Ordinance:


I.          County can declare itself a “graffiti victim” and recover costs for graffiti abatement   including enforcement, removal and damages.

II.          The County can recoup unpaid costs through liens or special assessments against the        property of the graffiti offender or parent/guardian of offending minor. 


III.         The cost of graffiti abatement has been re-assessed to truly reflect the true cost to taxpayers for removal, repair or replacement of defaced property to $522; and $665 for enforcement per incident in County areas.


IV.        Adult graffiti offenders are subject to a civil citation issued by the Sheriff, and administered      through the County’s Ombudsman for fines up to $1,000.  First Offense - $250; Second - $750; Third - $750; Fourth - $1,000, along with a non-compliance fee.  If financial hardship, community service in lieu of the fine could be considered.


The new Ordinance expands Molina’s graffiti enforcement program which resulted in 168 arrests and confiscation of weapons, drugs and graffiti tools within a six month period this year.   This included parents completed the Parent Project and the minors enrolled in a youth intervention program.  As a result of long delays in the system with cases involving minors, Molina has also asked the District Attorney’s office to apply its Juvenile Offender Information Network (JOIN) to graffiti cases for minors with first-time offenses.  It allows for a contractual agreement with the minor – requiring community service, youth counseling program, outstanding school attendance, and the parent/legal guardian is required to pay restitution and complete the Parent Project program. 

 “Graffiti is an epidemic – and through our Graffiti Enforcement Program, we are telling the graffiti vandals we mean business. This is about preventive services for families, intervention programming for first time offenders, and aggressive suppression and enforcement for the most egregious taggers.  As long as we are successfully prosecuting graffiti vandals and holding parents accountable – we are making progress in our fight against graffiti and crime, said Molina.  “I hope other jurisdictions will implement similar graffiti enforcement efforts.”      

In response to the murders of Pico Rivera resident Maria Hicks and Valinda resident Robert Whitehead, who tried to stop graffiti vandals, Molina initiated an aggressive graffiti enforcement effort which holds parents accountable and requires restitution for damages and enforcement costs.  Most recently, East L.A. resident Luis Gonzalez became another “graffiti” murder victim.     


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