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San Francisco To Pursue Civil Charges Against Repeat Graffiti Vandals To Recover Cleanup Costs

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Graffiti seen under a bridge in Kurt Cobain Park in Aberdeen, Washington on April 1, 2014. The park and bridge where Cobain used to hang out and write songs has become a symbol for fans as it was a gathering place after the news of his death spread. Nirvana fans prepare to mark the 20th anniversary of the iconic frontmans suicide on April 5. AFP PHOTO / Sébastien VUAGNAT (Photo credit should read Sebastian VUAGNAT/AFP/Getty Images)

(Sebastian VUAGNAT/AFP/Getty Images)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Legislation introduced by San Francisco Supervisor London Breed aiming to cut back on graffiti vandalism throughout the city was unanimously passed by the city’s Board of Supervisors.

The proposal, which the board passed Tuesday afternoon after some slight amendments, targets repeat offenders who vandalize buildings, buses, parks and other city spaces with graffiti—amounting to an estimated $19.4 million a year in clean-up costs for the city.

Breed’s legislation would focus on pursuing civil lawsuits instead of filing criminal charges, which has done little to quell repeat vandalism, she said.

She said the ordinance is not just about harsher penalties but about helping the people impacted by graffiti crimes, such as property owners who incur clean-up costs if graffiti appears on a building.

Breed said the legislation will improve “how we collect and process” graffiti offenses and not just depend on criminal courts.

Offenders would have to pay for cleaning and get involved in community service.

A collaboration between various city agencies, including police, Municipal Transportation Agency and Department of Public Works staff, the ordinance would put together a streamlined database to collect photographic evidence through the 311 app and would help identify serial taggers.

Under the ordinance, city codes would ban repeat offenders from bringing graffiti-making materials into parks and onto buses. Some of those items include spray paint, etching tools and slap tags, or stickers that vandals stick onto surfaces and then tag.

Breed touted the proposal for using existing city resources.

“We are not asking for additional city funding for this, which is incredible,” she said.

She said the ordinance is for “every San Franciscan who is tired of painting over graffiti to only see it again.”

Supervisors will hold a second vote on the legislation at their next board meeting as a formality.

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