SF DPW: Painting Over Graffiti on Private Residences?

This building on 23rd and Capp is tagged constantly. Even so, should the city be paying for this service (especially when they don’t claim to offer it)?

UPDATE: A number of commenters have pointed out that the city will warn a property owner that they are required to paint over graffiti or else the DPW will do it and send them a bill.  However in this case, the owner (presumably) has been spotted painting over the graffiti a number of times but the building is just tagged again within a day or two.  It sounds like a way to scam property owners out of money.

"Better than pushing dirt."

"Better than pushing dirt."

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33 Comments on “SF DPW: Painting Over Graffiti on Private Residences?”

  1. Volunteers?

    “Graffiti Watch, the San Francisco Anti-Graffiti Program, is a citywide volunteer effort to prevent and remove graffiti from street furniture such as poles, mailboxes, signal boxes and other public property that taggers deface. The program’s goal is to keep San Francisco’s streets graffiti-free through community involvement and enforcement.”

    PDF: http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/sfdpw/bses/graffiti/Microsoft%20Word%20-%20Graffiti%20Watch%20%20Application1.pdf

  2. G. Says:

    If that’s private property, you’ve just captured city sponsored tagging, er, vandalism, er, street art.

  3. Eric Says:

    How do you know those are real city employees, and not goons from a rival graffiti gang?

  4. mattymatt Says:

    Maybe if it takes too long for the property owner to paint over the tag, the city does it and then sends a bill?

  5. Josh Says:

    What Mattymatt said is true and happening more frequently

  6. deemzzzz Says:

    Mattymatt is right – the city does not pay for this.
    They send the property owner a notice saying they have a few weeks to paint over the tags themselves or the city will do it for them and mail a bill.

  7. boyonabike Says:

    This is the building right on my block (mine’s at the end of the block in that picture). As soon as the graffiti’s painted over, it gets tagged again. This happens almost like clockwork. And, of course, there’s a notice taped to the building a couple days after. My building gets hit pretty regularly as well, but not nearly as much as that one. I feel bad for the owners.

  8. mcas Says:

    Sometimes the city does paint over graf on private property. The Mid-Market Community Beneifts District employs people to pick up garbage, paint, and keep the mid-market generally clean.

    Soo… technically the CBD pays the city, who employs and pays the workers. So, city employees painting over it, yes. Being paid by your tax dollars, no.

    The Mission, I’m not sure of.

  9. gottasayit Says:

    nobody wants to read your dumb tag except the self indulgent idiot that puts it up. If you have a need to mark up the built environment and property that does not belong to you, at least do something creative like a mural or a poignant statement. Your faux badass nickname that you made up yourself is just clutter.

    • 17 year local Says:

      not exactly true, gottasayit. there are many non-graffiti writers in the city that pay close attention to the tags on the wall. love of graffiti is alive and well. i love “clutter” (as you put it), and so do many of my friends.

    • SFDoggy Says:


  10. Neo Displacer Says:

    It’s not a scam, the original intent of the law was to reduce blight/crime and improve life quality by requiring property owners to paint over graffiti. The problem is more like unintended consequences when an owner can’t keep up with the tagging frequency and DPW steps in. This was going on at 24 and capp for years until someone did a big mural. Now the daily back and forth, ugly beige paint vs. idiotic tagging has stopped there

    • 17 year local Says:

      i was thinking this same thought. seems like this building needs a mural!! at least then they won’t have a constant tag-buff-tag-buff battle on their wall. more murals is a good thing.

      and while i’m here…..what the eff is that “buff” all about?? brown paint sloppily put onto a blue building?? i’d rather see the graffiti thank you very much. if the buff has to do it’s thing, then take some civic pride and do a good job!! i think this lazy buff makes the city look like crap. (that’s all. thank you)

  11. zinzin Says:

    i’ve never seen em out with rollers. there’s a nice dude who hits all the places on my end of the hood – around 19th – and he has a really cool truck with a giant tank of paint, long hose and a super powerful spray gun. and a very space-age suit / mask / hood combo.

    he can do the vacant store front at 19th & san carlos (which currently has the ubiquitous orfn / sad jose 2009 bit, among others) in less than 15 minutes.

    my kid loves to watch it. in my own OCD way, so do i.

  12. skapoko Says:

    At the non-profit I work at in SOMA we are constantly tagged. Pretty much every week I think. And because we are so small we are constantly painting over it. The only problem is that we get a notice from the city every two months like clockwork because there is nearly always something on our front facade. As a very small non profit we actually make sure to budget for buying paint as we go through it quickly.

    Taggers are going to do what they are going to do. But I find it nearly impossible to keep the side of our building free from tags. The whole thing stresses me out and is just not a workable situation for all.


    • 17 year local Says:

      A) contact precita eyes. they may be able to coordinate a mural for your building.
      B) i believe there is free buff paint available through the city dump.

  13. Martin Says:

    For all you tagger lovers go ahead and tag your own stuff instead of tagging people’s private property. In a time of recession particularly, the last thing we need is to spend MILLIONS (may millions in fact) cleaning up after a bunch of self-indulgent snot-nosed punks including ORFN, Euroe, BKF and that crew (and yes, I know big O is a 30+ year old punk — which makes it even worse) — always hanging out over on Albion St and Arinell’s.

  14. Drew Says:

    I live nearby, and the owner is just not keeping on top of it. There was a three- or four-month period that it just got worse and worse, and if you don’t keep on top of the situation it’s like animals pissing to cover each other’s scent. So I don’t have much sympathy for the building owner beyond the fact he’s getting tagged so much. It’s definitely time to get Precita Eyes involved in making something beautiful out of a bad situation.

  15. resident of the building Says:

    i LIVE in this building. so imagine how much i love the way it looks…

    and it’s true. it gets painted over about 5 minutes after it gets painted. I am not sure how much of bill is being footed by the owner vs. the city but i often wonder if a mural project might help.

    does anyone have experience with this? could partering with precita eyes or another like minded institution help us? do buildings that have invested time into community mural projects get tagged LESS?

    any advice would be welcome!!

    -someone who actually lives here

    • zinzin Says:

      in my experience, 2 things are true:

      murals get tagged less – look at the murals on 19th @ mission…it’s tag central there, and while they’ve both needed touch-ups, it’s only over years

      consistent painting over of tags, over time, makes the place a less attractive canvas – commercial wall on my block was ALWAYS tagged up when i moved in 3 years ago. owner was not doing anything about it, not willing to do anything. i got them to give me the paint (matching color), and i painted over the tags immediately. often i painted over tags 4 times in one week. now, after months at it, the wall doesn’t get tagged at all (of course, it’ll be tagged today cause i wrote this). but it’s worth a try…

      though i like murals better.

  16. Watchful Eye Says:

    I do not know why this property is such a “prize” for tagging, the owner has tried to keep up with it, but can only do so much. Yes, a mural might be a better answer and I’m sure the owner would be open to that, because the tagging is just so way out of hand.

  17. A neighbor Says:

    No sympathy for the property owner, they let the graffiti just sit there for months until not so long ago. It’s true that recently, it gets hit up within a day or two after each repainting. I totally agree with others that the owner should stop fooling around and just make the call to a respected muralist. Hell, I’d even chip in to subsidize if they passed a hat around!

  18. dogfella Says:

    Maybe there are reasons for it that I don’t know but it would seem to me to make sense to plant vines / bushes along high graffiti buildings. This would pretty much eliminate the problem and help green the city.

  19. failedstate Says:

    Not a Scam.
    The property owner has left that graffiti in place for months. They painted over it only twice since December.

    The city doesn’t come out and paint the property until they get dozens of complaints and even then they wait for at least 30 days after giving a notice. I know you think it’s art but it looks like shit when you walk by it day after day.

    It’s about time the city stepped in and did something.

    It’s time to get a mural on that wall and the one at 23rd and Folsom (Drake Court).

    • godiknow Says:

      failedstate my boy you are woefully mistaken. the city absolutely does not wait until they get ‘dozens of complaints’ nor do they wait ‘at least 30 days’ before they give notice.

      actually, they hire a knob (or a few knobs) around with the sole purpose of spotting graffiti so the city can pad its’ coffers. yes the original idea of keeping the city devoid of graffiti is a noble one but these hyperactive, keen-eyed knobs are overzealous.

      additionally, they often send the notice to the wrong building owner: i just spent hours on the phone and writing letters to prove i am not the owner of my neighbor’s building which was recently tagged.

      these snarky city employees rank right up there with parking enforcement officers, i mean meter maids.

  20. Would love to see that wall personally, specially when it causes so many comments.


  21. NatMcNasty Says:

    The Graffiti Crew will warn the owner, cite the owner, and eventually paint the “tagged area” at the expese of the owner. If it is deemed offensive, gang related, or the crew is in a good mood sometimes they will cover the graffiti free of charge. This is done as a courtesy.

  22. To hear that we as the Owner let the graffitti sit there is absolutely ridiculous. We paint that wall at least once a month, and it is tagged before it even dries!

    This is a letter sent to the tenants of the property:

    December 9, 2009

    3241-3247 23rd Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110

    RE: Mural Project

    Dear Tenants,

    As you are well aware, for many years we have been dealing with a graffiti problem at the property. In the past we have always covered up the graffiti, but in some instances the paint is not dry, before it is ‘tagged’ again.

    In an effort to stop this nuisance and contribute to the neighborhood, we have begun working with the San Francisco Arts Commission in hopes of having a mural on the property rather than ugly graffiti. We have taken all the preliminary steps in this process, but would now like your input as well. Being that it is your home we have included a package of three artists who are the current candidates for a mural project. Please review the package and give us any feedback as to your preference of artist, we are also open to suggestions as to the theme of the mural.

    We appreciate any feedback and patience as we work on this project. We are the first such property and owner/management group working with the San Francisco Arts Commission, so there is not a step by step guide for us to follow!

    Should there be any questions, please feel free to contact our office at the below-mentioned information.

    Nicholas Scarabosio
    Jackson Group Property Management

  23. Avery St. Clair Says:

    Graffiti is vandalism. It is subversive in intent and destructive in practice. It blights our city and degrades our lives.

    Paint out those tags the MOMENT they arrive. Photograph the vandals and call the cops. Fight this infection every way you can.

    Respect your City = Respect Yourself.

  24. graffiti stinks Says:

    The apartment owner is out of touch with her property if she brags about once a month painting as if it is enough. Graffiti must be cleaned up within 2 days of when it occurs, and it will come back six or more times, then the idiots go elsewhere.

    The apartment owner Nicolas is saying that he is not really trying to do the job.

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