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Business Owner Says San Francisco's Graffiti Problem Worsening

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Taggers have been leaving their mark in San Francisco's Mission District for years, but residents and business owners say graffiti problem has recently gotten much worse.

Thursday morning, Anthony Lavia was painting the front of his Mission District business for the fourth time since Sunday.

"It's basically a daily struggle," said Lavia.

He's consistently a victim of graffiti tags. While he knows isn't a unique problem, he says it's getting worse.

"Cleaning up random graffiti is one thing; but this daily assault. That's over the line," explained Lavia.

On Wednesday, city workers logged 281 separate tags into this database.

It started at 12:16 a.m. when a crew spotted non-offensive graffiti on a commercial building in SOMA. The cataloging ended many tags later at 10:50 p.m. Wednesday night with graffiti seen on a traffic signal box in the Mission.

So far this year, the city has reported just over 22,000 cases of graffiti. That is about the same number over the same period last year. But that's a big jump from 2015, and even bigger increase than 2014.

"We don't' have the resources or funds to paint out every graffiti tag we see on a building," said Rachel Gordon with San Francisco Public Works.

Gordon with says even when the city catches vandals red handed, judges frequently won't prosecute because the taggers are so young.

"The courts virtually dismissed everything saying we don't want to saddle this person with crimes for the rest of his life," explained Gordon.

Lavia didn't agree with the position judges seemed to take when it comes to vandals.

"I say if the judge feels that way he should volunteer to come down and paint my graffiti," said Lavia.

If Lavia doesn't clean up the graffiti within 30 days, he'll be fined by the city.

Public works tells business owners to hire someone to paint a mural on the side of their building to deter taggers.

But Lavia's other business on Mission Street already has a mural that he says it isn't helping prevent graffiti.

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