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Graffiti bill could raise state's bar for penalties

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Photo: Video by kgun9.com

Graffiti bill could raise state's bar for penalties

CREATED Jan 10, 2013 - UPDATED: Jan 11, 2013

Reporter: Maggie Vespa
Web Producer: Mekita Rivas

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It's an ugly, unwavering problem persistenly plaguing Tucson's scenery.

Wednesday, 9OYS showed you TPD's efforts to wipe out graffiti for good.
 
Now, victims of this vicious vandalism are speaking out, with the hope lawmakers will listen up.
 
69 year-old Paul Acosta has lived in his Sunnyside home for 40 years. He can't remember a time when covering these tags wasn't routine.
 
When 9OYS reporter Maggie Vespa asked how often he sees new tags, Acosta said, "As soon as it's repainted, of course."
 
And this week that pattern placed Acosta in the city's sights for a citation.
 
"If I permit and allow this to stay there, they'll fine me $75 dollars upon re-inspection," he said.
 
Vespa asked, "How much sense does that make to you?"
 
Acosta responded, "It's a catch-22, and it looks like they're going after the victim here."
 
And that catch-22 is part of a city ordinance, which puts responsibility on property owners to keep Tucson's slate clean.
 
Unfortunately Acosta's story is told statewide, which is why one Phoenix group is calling on state lawmakers to take a stand.
 
"What we're trying to do is help juveniles understand that there is a consequence for their actions," said Ginnie Ann Sumner, a member of the Anti-Graffiti Task Force.
 
9OYS spoke with Sumner via phone about a new bill that would standardize stricter penalties, such as forcing juvenile taggers or their parents to clean up their work and pay full restitution.
 
"They have to go back and clean the vandalism off themselves to understand how difficult it is, and how they are affecting somebody else's property," she said.
 
And Sumner hopes once word spreads, taggers will put down the paint, but she admits that would take time.
 
And after all these years, Acosta says it's tough to look past the writing on the wall.
 
"We can't have armed guards all the time out here," he said.  "No there's no solution to it, I'm sorry to say. As long as there are kids with spray paint, they'll be doing it ."
 
Sumner says the bill is still in its infant stages.
 
The group is holding an event Friday in Phoenix to get the public on board.
 
9OYS will have a crew there, and bring you the details.
     
Meantime, police encourage the public to continue reporting graffiti crime.  
 
If you see a tag in progress, call 9-1-1 or 88-crime immediately.
 
You can also report tags after the fact via the city's website.