Fiona Ma for State Assembly
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New law would force taggers to clean up after themselves

San Francisco will establish a pilot program that will require graffiti offenders to clean up graffiti -- even if they settle their case out of court -- under a new state law.

Many offenders are escaping misdemeanor vandalism charges by settling cases outside of court and agreeing to pay a property owner the costs of removing the graffiti, without ever appearing before a judge or performing any graffiti cleanup, according to the office of Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, who authored the legislation.

The City of San Francisco spends more than $20 million annually to clean up graffiti, according to Ma’s office.

''The signing of this law is a win for San Francisco neighborhoods,'' said Ma in a press statement. ''Graffiti is blighting bus stops, Muni, store fronts, and other properties across The City.''

The former San Francisco supervisor added that she hopes the law -- which was signed into effect by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday, will prove to be a success in San Francisco and then replicated statewide.

The San Francisco Graffiti Advisory Board and the California Business Properties Association co-sponsored the bill, which received unanimous bipartisan support throughout the legislative process.

''AB 1767 is a very important bill that will reduce graffiti vandalism in San Francisco,'' said SFPD Officer Chris Putz, who helped draft the legislation as a graffiti-abatement officer with the department. ''This bill is a victory for every taxpayer and business owner who has been victimized by graffiti vandalism in The City.''