Green means stop for city’s graffiti vandals

City officials want to issue “fix-it” tickets or warnings to drivers whose trucks are covered with graffiti to help abolish the urban eyesores.

The idea stemmed from The City’s Clean and Green truck program, a $15,000 grant used to paint 14 graffiti-laden trucks with the color Transformer Green, which aims to prevent vandals from marking what’s normally a pale canvas.

The painted trucks have proved successful since the program started in March, and now the Department of Public Works hopes to take it to the next level.

“There’s no law right now that says you have to abate the graffiti,” said Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, who sits on The City’s Graffiti Advisory Board and helped coordinate the program. “These trucks are ugly. They’re urban blight. They make neighborhoods look abandoned.”

Nuru said he will work with local and state officials to either require proof through registration that the trucks are clean or allow police to cite them.

But, according to the office of state Sen. Leland Yee — who originally backed the idea of authoring a law that would help resolve blight issues on commercial trucks — freedom of expression issues need to be addressed first.

“You could try it at the local level,” said Yee’s spokesman, Adam Keigwin. “I think you’re going to have opposition from First Amendment folks. I’m not sure the senator is entirely certain that’s the way to go.”

Brian Streiffer, who owns construction company Streiffer Burnham Construction, utilized the green-truck program for his Isuzu NPR that he parks outside houses while remodeling.

“They just see a white truck as a white board, as a place to put their image, and we couldn’t keep up with it,” Streiffer said. “It’s still a big ugly truck, but it’s green now. I love it.”

However, he said enforcing abatement is a little extravagant.

“There’s a limit to what local government should strive to tackle,” Streiffer said.

At the very least, Nuru said, there are plans to extend the grant and repaint more commercial trucks.

“We’ve worked very hard to keep graffiti off buildings, off sidewalks, and now we’re starting to on the surfaces of trucks,” he said. “But, not many people want the green. That’s one thing we would like to change.”

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

 

Staying clean

 

100-plus: Trucks Public Works found covered with graffiti

$1,025: Estimated cost of abatement per vehicle

$20 million: Amount The City spends each year combating graffiti

$250: Inspection fee for ignoring citations for blight on private property, plus cleanup costs

Source: Public Works Department

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