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Taggers (and Parents) Beware: Fresno Cracking Down Hard on Graffiti
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 2 months ago on
February 21, 2024

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Fresno leaders coordinate on a plan to crack down on graffiti.

Fresno City Council will vote on ramping up financial penalties.

District Attorney plans to go after graffiti felons.


Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer has had it with graffiti defiling the city. In addition to an eyesore, Dyer said it’s bad for business.

“It is extremely difficult to attract investors and promote development in our city when our buildings are covered with graffiti. Outside, investors and developers see that as a city that doesn’t care,” Dyer said at a Tuesday news conference.

The city’s graffiti abatement team responds to 30,000 complaints a year, Dyer said.

Now, the city plans to put some teeth into its anti-graffiti laws, and it has the support of the district attorney.

The Fresno City Council will consider amending the ordinance already on the books at Thursday’s meeting to increase fines for vandalism and defacement. Councilmembers Luis Chavez and Garry Bredefeld are carrying the bill for Dyer.

The bill would set the fine schedule between $10,000 and $50,000 — it currently is at a sliding scale between $500 and $50,000 depending on the amount of damage. The amendment also adds language that violations “shall be prosecuted to the fullest extent” of the law.

Law Enforcement on Board

“It is extremely difficult to attract investors and promote development in our city when our buildings are covered with graffiti.”Mayor Jerry Dyer

Police Chief Paco Balderrama said he set up a graffiti task force that started this month — dedicating a team to go after the most prolific taggers. He said they are easy to identify because most include some sort of signature. The cost for the team is $100,000 for six months.

“If you’re tagging up our city, the Fresno Police Department is coming after you,” Balderrama said.

Balderrama plans on making arrests, saying that damage of more than $400 is a felony.

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp plans to make those felony prosecutions stick.

“We are not going to be reducing these cases to misdemeanors without full restitution being paid,” Smittcamp said. She also wants violators to perform community service and cleanup.

“When they’re out here in the 110-degree weather … I think that will be extremely impactful,” Smittcamp said.

Smittcamp said that judges would have the final decision on punishment.

“I’m very hopeful that the Superior Court judges will understand the importance of this and that they won’t undercut us,” Smittcamp said.

Parents potentially could also be held accountable, too, said Fresno City Attorney Andrew Janz.

“Graffiti creates fear in our community, as it is often thought to be associated with gangs within a neighborhood. It causes folks who are passing through or visiting our city, to jump to an unfair conclusion about our reputation, thinking that we are a city that doesn’t care about our neighborhoods,” Dyer said.

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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