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Monday, March 12, 2007

Restrictions on Spray Paint Called for?

I’m unaware of any graffiti regulations or laws in the District (please correct my ignorance if there are any restrictions). It seems that a little legislating and/or rule making could go a long way towards helping curb the problem with little impact on businesses. Here are some slightly big-brotherish (and potentially Constitutionally-prohibited) ideas about what we could do:

1. Impose an age restriction on the purchase of spray paint: You must be 18 in order to purchase spray paint and photo i.d. is required (and record must be kept of name of purchaser).
2. Make it illegal for a minor to possess spray paint (with limited exceptions).
3. Require retailers to keep spray paint behind the register or inaccessible without employee-assistance.
4. Require purchasers to “register” where they intend to use the spray paint.
5. Impose a special tax on the sale of spray paint to help fund graffiti removal efforts.
6. Make it illegal to mail spray paint into D.C.

I know these ideas, if implemented, would probably only pose a minor roadblock to taggers, but they might make it slightly more difficult for taggers to access their tools of trade. Thoughts?


Anonymous said...

I'd personally be all for it, but it seems your suggestions were recently deemed unconstitutional in NYC and would most likely have the same fate in DC...

Posted: Thursday, 01 February 2007 10:18PM

Court: NYC Can't Block Young Adults From Buying Spray Paint

NEW YORK (AP) -- Young adults can legally buy spray paint and broad-tipped markers because the city's effort to stop graffiti by banning their access to those items seems to erode their First Amendment rights, a federal appeals court said Thursday.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made the finding as it upheld a decision by U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels to block the city from enforcing a law that would have prevented sales of the spray paint and markers to those between the ages of 18 and 21.

Seven high school and college students sued the city after it began to enforce anti-graffiti laws that went into effect Jan. 1, 2006. They say they need spray paint and broad-tipped markers to create effects such as mists, fades, blends and different textures that cannot be accomplished with brushes.

Scott Shorr, a lawyer for the city, expressed disappointment in the latest ruling.

"The city enacted the new anti-graffiti restrictions as a tool for reducing graffiti vandalism by young adults, not to limit lawful artistic expression. Of course, the city will continue its efforts to combat the blight of illegal graffiti,'' said Shorr.

Attorney Daniel Perez, who represented the artists, said the ruling was not a surprise.

"Every court that has considered this law has struck it down,'' he said. "The only thing this law accomplished was to take spray paint out of the hands of young artists. The city has persuaded no one that it cut down on graffiti.''

The May order by Daniels was a temporary ruling meant to stop the city from enforcing the law until all of the facts of the dispute were explored in more depth and a permanent ruling results.

The rewritten laws extended a ban to young adults which had already prevented those under the age of 18 from buying graffiti tools but allowed them to possess them. The graffiti instruments include aerosol spray paint, broad-tipped indelible markers and etching acid.

"There is no rational basis to single out 18-year-olds, 19-year-olds and 20-year-olds more than any other group in the adult population,'' Daniels had said.

In its written decision, a three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit said the challenged portions of the anti-graffiti law "appear to burden substantially more speech than is necessary to achieve the city's legitimate interest in preventing illegal graffiti.''

The appeals court also said it was unpersuaded by the city's argument that young artists can have friends, older relatives or an art school purchase spray paint and broad-tipped indelible markers for them or can use unregulated materials such as non-indelible markers.

(TM & © 2007 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO & EYE Logo TM & © 2007 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report. In the interest of timeliness, this story is fed directly from the newswire and may contain occasional typographical errors. )

Anonymous said...

I'd love it if we could do it...anything to eliminate the graffiti plague that seems to be spiraling out of control lately...

Maybe it could be an agenda item for the ANC Commissioners to discuss??? That is, if the meetings don't continue to get cancelled and they decide they actually want to do something constructive for their constituents!!

Can I make an appeal to the "Le Slum" blogger to continue to ask people to pick up the trash around their houses and take it under their own control to paint over the graffiti as soon as it happens...

Thanks! Love your site...

Mari said...

Well kids could just hop on the train and buy their spray paint in Maryland. I mean that's where I bought my last spray can.
Also what about 18+ year old taggers?
I'm a bit jaded on what more legislation can do. What we need is more law enforcement. For example, remember when driving and yakking on cell phones became illegal in the District? And lo, have people gone hands free? Is the sight of someone just gabbing away on their cell while driving their Urban Assault Vehicle a rare sight in the district? And isn't littering illegal? And eating on the Metro?
Education & Enforcement. That's what the city needs. Not more laws on the books that will get ignored. No. Education combined with the stain fighting power of enforcement.

JMC39 said...

has everyone been reporting graffiti to and/or 202-727-1000? submit your service request for graffiti removal now that the weather is warming and the DC gov (DPW) has no excuse not to abate graffiti. it's our community and our government and therefore our responsibility to report graffiti.

DPW is always going to focus on those neighborhoods that complain frequently and consistently.

Anonymous said...

Use your anger about graffitti to go out and get your own spray can and paint over the graffitti and solve the problem yourselves. There are more residents concerned about graffitti than there are taggers (or are there?) We pick up the trash on the street ourselves. Why are we waiting for big government to wipe our asses. Next we'll be expecting Jack Evans to come down and pick up the dog crap.

benda rules said...

Great idea BUT where are all the illegal aliens going to purchase supplies without a picture id?

Shaw Rez said...

Anon - I totally agree that we should take responsibility ourselves when feasible (though I think we should always call the city also; the squeaky wheel gets the oil, and we're long overdue for such attention).

I think paint-paint, rather than spray-paint, is the most desirable way to go.

Gee said...

I'd personally be all for it, but it seems your suggestions were recently deemed unconstitutional in NYC

Not really. As the article notes, the Court objected only to an 18-21 ban in the NY law. Shaw Rez was just suggesting a ban on purchase/possession by under-18s. Minors' constitutional rights are much more constricted than those of adults, and bans of this kind to minors are common.

Anonymous said...

After reviewing many studies it seems that the only effective way to deal with graffiti is to remove it immediately. This takes a community awareness and work by everyone who cares about the appearance of the neighborhood. If the "illegal art" is continuously destroyed through removal, it seems that the "illegal artists" search for more receptive (i.e. less caring) neighborhoods in which to express themselves.

Anonymous said...

5 R’s of Graffiti Management
•Record: photograph, date, location
•Remove: immediately
•Report:(202) 727-1000
•Responsibility: “If it’s on your wall, it’s on your hands.”
•Rationale: reclaim property ownership