Garden Grove Fully Explains $1,000 Tagging Fine

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Yesterday, you were told that the city of Garden Grove would explain how a new tool for fighting graffiti--fining taggers $1,000 each--would work.

So here's how it works:

Get caught with the tools of tagging (let's see, there's spray paint and . . . uh . . . what else?), and you're subject to a $1,000 fine.

You don't have to be seen tagging anything nor have painted your full name and home address on a wall nor need to have your 15-sizes-too-big jeans infected with annoying overspray.

Just have a spray can in your mitts, and you have to cough up a grand. And if you're a juvie, your parents have to pony up the cash because they are responsible for you, theoretically anyway.

"By initiating these fines," said Garden Grove City Manager Matt Fertal, "we can now move quickly and more effectively to solve some real community issues, and save the City significant amounts of money to be put to better use."

He claimed it cost Garden Grove a half million bucks last year to white-out graffiti. Meanwhile, the city has learned through experience that issuing administrative citations--that's what the tagger fine is--has helped cut down thorny social ills.

For instance, in 2007, the City Council passed an ordinance allowing police officers to issue administrative citations for illegal fireworks violations, with fines up to $1,000. The city went from issuing 150 citations with the $1,000 fine on July 4 of that you to 67 citations the following year to even fewer than that on the Fourth in '09. The Police Department also noticed a corresponding decrease in illegal firework complaints.

Another win, according to the city, is handing a problem with fines instead of the usual route that involves clogging up the court system and local jails. And then there are the lower city maintenance costs.

Of course, those savings could get wiped out by lawsuits brought by civil libertarians and legitimate spray painters. But Fertal maintains the city is only going after known law breakers.

"The citations and fines would be reserved for those who have proven they refuse to follow the rules," he says. "We want to continue working with business and home owners to bring them to compliance. Our goal is to ensure the quality of life that the people of Garden Grove expect and deserve."

The city has launched "a major, multi-lingual informational campaign" to get the word out to residents about the new administrative citation process and fines. Information is also available via the city's website, and it will soon be communicated through water bills, local cable television and other outlets.

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