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Anaheim business owner caught between city laws and taggers

When taggers spray painted the windows of Rosa Bobbio's tiny upholstery shop in Anaheim, she called the police, who told her it was the city’s responsibility.

But the city told her she owed them $466.66 in fines and fees for not replacing her defaced windows at Century Custom Upholstery. Bobbio's experience is similar to that of other business owners in Southern California who find themselves caught between the zero-tolerance policies of municipal governments and the persistent destruction of taggers.

"I know the city needs money, but I cannot afford to pay all this,” said Bobbio, who has run the shop with her brother for decades. “Business is terrible right now.”

Graffiti is so prevalent in Anaheim that even the trees and light poles cannot escape taggers, Bobbio said. Vandals most recently hit her shop on South East Street on Sunday night, covering her windows in blue spray paint and her walls in black, gold and purple. That was just days after vandals scratched markings into her glass windows.

She usually cleans up the graffiti herself or a neighbor will grab a bucket of paint and cover the scrawls. But glass vandalism is another matter. Late last year, taggers etched crude scrawls into her windows, something a generous coat of paint could not fix. Bobbio balked at the $1,700 cost of replacing them, so the markings remained there for months until the city fined her for not repairing them.

Anaheim officials said the city had been working to solve the problem since October, when they first responded to reports of graffiti on Bobbio’s building.

“Graffiti is the responsibility of the business owners,” said Ruth Ruiz, a spokeswoman for the city of Anaheim. “If she continues to speak with the city or needs additional assistance, she can just contact our code enforcement, and we can work with them.”

Ruiz said the city often sends crews to remove graffiti or provides paint for small-business owners to do it themselves, and the city last year started the Anaheim Community Anti-Graffiti Effort, a coalition of residents, business owners, police and code-enforcement officers charged with tackling the graffiti problem.

"The surest way to deter graffiti is to eliminate graffiti,” she said

After Bobbio was fined, she contacted Mike Schuch of Xlnt Tint of Anaheim, who decided to test, for free, a new protection process he had been working on. He pasted a protective film on some of her windows late last week and had planned to return this week to finish the job.

But right after he treated the windows, vandals scraped into them again.

“I’m sitting here waiting for my shipment of new pads, so I can go finish this job.… it’s just disheartening,” Schuch said.

Still, he said, repairing the windows should be relatively quick. The only outstanding issue then would be the $466.66 fine. But Bobbio remains adamant.

“I’m not gonna pay no fine – I think I got my rights too,” Bobbio said. “Who’s going to control these people? If the city doesn’t control these people, what can I do?”

-- Amina Khan

 
Comments () | Archives (14)

People wonder whats wrong with our society, look at the top and ask the question again. You all wanted morte gov in your lives, now you have it, enjoy

What a bunch of nonsense! How are the criminal acts of these worthless taggers and gang members the responsibility of the business owner? It’s not like the business people are out doing the graffiti themselves. This is yet another ploy by the city to generate revenue at the hands of innocent citizens. Graffiti should fall square in the hands of the city and the police.

Let's just correct the record - "zero tolerance" is a uniquely conservative approach to most social problems such as drugs. Liberals have increasingly adopted this single solution approach to issues they care about, such as guns. Both sides are misguided when they embrace dumb concepts. The fact is that this zero tolerance on graffiti and blight punishes the victim, not the perpetrator.

Business owners should mount cameras to where the activity is taking place so these vandalizers can be placed in jail.

Some jerk commits a crime against the business owner, and the city says that owner has to pay?

In Anahiem taggers are nothing more than revenue agents for the city!

I'd like to know why the city is picking on these business owners when they can't clean up up their own graffiti on the sidewalks, telephone poles and trees along the city streets. I'm tried of looking at this stuff every weekend when I take my dogs out for a walk. I've lived in this city for 50 years and I'm quite disgusted by the way the city has dilapidated.

What a way to attract business to your city, Anaheim. Some > person defaces private property and the city expects the property owner/lessee to repair it?

If I were a business owner seeking to relocate somewhere in Orange County, Anaheim would be at the bottom of my list.

Pfui.

So, if the city gets to fine business owners for not removing graffiti from private property, does that mean that we citizens get to fine the city for not removing graffiti from public property? Because I could get quite a list going.....

So, if the city gets to fine business owners for not removing graffiti from private property, does that mean that we citizens get to fine the city for not removing graffiti from public property? Because I could get quite a list going.....

Let's define "zero tolerance". If the city has a zero tolerance policy against tagging then am I within the city's policy to shoot those that are tagging to stop them? Zero tolerance means just that, we will do anything within our means to stop you from doing this action. Yes it's extreme, and no I don't advocate shooting taggers. What I do advocate is turn our police force back into officers instead of revenue collectors.....

When Bobbio says “Who’s going to control these people?" Is he refering to the Anahiem City council & their minions, the department heads or the taggers???

I wounder if any of the taggers have any fathers on the local police force? If any store owners are smart wax your windows and the side of your business. You can wash the wax off and then reapply. Remove the henderance quickly and easy. Or drive around the area and learn the taggers art work and start a campaign of turfing. pit one rival against the other. Simply tag one over the other. Then sit back and watch those taggers fight each other till one is left and or a few are left alive. Just scratch out that tagger, he will seek out whom steeped into his hood. Turf wars are an excellent way get thugs to check thugs. hahaha i get paid to this btw.

I wonder if the taggers are getting paid by the city to do this to generate revenue. I don't know why the city would not crack down hard on the taggers themselves (wait, they are making money on it, so why stop them!!!)


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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