Following a lengthy and expensive crackdown, graffiti seems to be migrating from public to private property, the controller's office reports.
According to a memo from the city controller presented as part of the the communications packet for this week's Board of Supervisors meeting, graffiti found on surveyed public property has declined from last year, but "graffiti found on private property is the highest it has been in the past four fiscal years."
But Steve Rotman, author of the 2009 books Bay Area Graffiti and San Francisco Street Art, says the numbers don't correspond with his observations. The city's war on graffiti has all but killed the art here, he said.
city is as spotless as I've ever seen it, and that's from someone who's
been observing the city a long time, wrote two books about it, and
notices it today," said Rotman.
We've left messages with
Department of Public Works spokeswoman Christine Falvey; we're playing phone tag and will update this story when we connect successfully.
In 2003, San Francisco voters approved Proposition C, requiring the city to establish specific standards for street cleanliness, and mandating workers to count graffiti, litter and refuse spilled from garbage cans. The Department of Public Works established a zero tolerance graffiti policy, and the mayor announced a policy of removing graffiti 48 hours after it's put up.
"I do still go out and shoot very regularly," he said. "I walked through Chinatown in 2004, 2005, was covered, covered in graffiti. They have made a concerted effort over the four or five years to clean up the city, and they seem to have cleaned it up. Now, you have to search very hard to find graffiti. Compared to four or five years ago, there's virtually no graffiti in San Francisco at all."
11/10, 3 p.m. Update:
DPW spokeswoman Christine Falvey tells us the numbers were derived from inspections conducted by Controllers' Office staff, as well as graffiti surveys done for the DPW by the nonprofit Mission Neighborhood Centers.
"The public wants to hold us accountable," she said. "So we're grading ourselves by providing data on our performance."
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