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Bloomberg to sign new anti-graffiti laws

December 29, 2005

The New York City Council has passed three new anti-graffiti bills which Bloomberg is no doubt itching to sign into law. Intro. No. 663-A amends existing law to mandate community service in a graffiti cleanup program as the minimum penalty for getting caught. Another bill announces a new “possesion ban,” making it illegal for anyone under 21 to carry spray paint, inks, or other graffiti supplies on public property.
Those first two mostly extend current laws, but the third moves the city’s law in a new and disturbing direction. Intro No. 299-A requires owners of commercial and residential buildings to remove graffiti from their property within 60 days of its appearance, or face fines. We’ve seen this kind of thing elsewhere in the country, but to my knowledge this is the first mandated-buff law in NYC. Just reading the text of the bill, you can tell that at least some councilmembers had serious objections on free speech and property rights grounds:

[I]t is important that graffiti in public view be cleaned as quickly as possible, while respecting property rights and First Amendment free speech rights.The goal of this legislation is to. . . addresses the need to rid our communities of graffiti as well as protect our important freedoms.

Right. It’ll be interesting to see how this new law is enforced. These kinds of regulations are regularly included in zoning rules in small cities or suburban towns — New York’s size and the prevalence of absentee landlords who barely provide heat for their tenants should probably make implementation much more difficult.
Photo at top: “Epitaph” by Lee Quinones, from Martha Cooper & Henry Chalfant’s book Subway Art.

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11 comments on “Bloomberg to sign new anti-graffiti laws”

This is disturbing. One aspect being all the freshmen art school students, with markers and supplies in thier bags, getting ticketed or arrested while walking to school!
And most disturbing will be the disappearance of the NY facade. Its the layering of paint, buff, tags, and paper that I love about NYC’s visual landscape…

agree with k.see — one of the big problems with posession laws is subjective application. an 18 year old can buy spraypaint, but you have to be 21 to “possess” it — so walking home from the hardware store with something you just bought is now illegal!

Well, the possession law would become a new frontier for
racial profiling – what does the person walking home from
the art store or hardware store look like?
I wonder whether landlords can get around the buffing law
by simply claiming that the artists have permission to use
their walls?

We have a proposal of law like this in Italy, submitted by an extreme right wing deputy, but it hasn’t passed yet. The new law (it’s a reform of the vandalism article in the penal law code) would give you a 10.000 euro fine if you’re find in possession of a spraypaint can.
If this year’s Italian budget law gets approved like it is (ie without amendments) we’ll have a provision to raise the price of the spraycans (they call it “aesthetical tax”) by 3 euros, doubling the price of the 400mls can.
I wonder which effect this would have on the normal market, the common people going to the store to buy spraycans that are *really* for painting their bicycles… it is an undue distorsion of the market. In any other market it would be compensated and blocked by a lobby action but… I don’t think that color producers have enough power.
and then, what’s the result on the quality of the pieces… people will still paint, but with less colors or with shit colors… hall of fames will cost the double but throups and tags will remain affordable.

first of all I may say that i dont live in the USA. i like graffiti and i ocacionally do stencill grafitti… here where i live (a sall mexican city) if the coops get you spraying someones wall they make you buff graffiti, and if you permite me i dont think that so unfair, it may be unpleasant, but i thik that when you do something you should remedy it… but carring spraypaint, ink, etc. as a motive to arrest or what ever, that IS EXESIVE, i mean, i carry markers in my bag, but most of the time dont tag with them… and a law to buff the grfiti toi buff graff out of your walls?, thats so nazi…. i hope that bills dont pass…

methane- that’s exactly the point, if police harrassment and arrests are consistent with the demographics that recieve it the most, it will not be art students, or people that come from “well-off” or light-skinned backgrounds. Even though graffiti is made by a variety of peoples the few taht are associated with gang related tags and pieces are going to take the fall.
Some solidarity please…
And there is a potentially interesting angle that could be taken by landowners, all tags, pieces, throw-ups, posters, and stickers on a facade could be considered intentional. I think the city government would make itself more of a critic and define what is; vandalism, “permission,” and what is aesthetically pleasing…

wow…. insane…
lets not forget on top of that, we have those subway searches !!!
so anyone can basically be targeted.
i seriously think republicans are against any artistic endeavors that do not
earn them money…. and i thought he was doing sooo well…
kids can carry drugs, cigarettes, guns, knives.. but god forbid they have a marker in their hands…

no it just has to be a marker less than 1/4 inch!
I’d like to work on a 1/4″ marker that can be attached to another and another making one that is as large as you’d like…!

I’m a property owner of a small building and I LOVE the law that fines landlords if they don’t remove unwanted ugly paint. I’ve done it several times without even been asked! I WANT my property to look nice. How dare someone come and deface my property. I can’t wait till this law is passed. How does one report the violation so that the landlord can get contacted?

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