Herrera obtains injunction, penalties against prolific graffiti
From the Office of San Francisco City Attorney
July 24, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO -- City Attorney Dennis Herrera today announced
that his office has obtained a civil injunction and monetary penalties
against one of San Francisco's most prolific graffiti vandals,
settling a first-of-its-kind civil lawsuit against Carlos Romero
for at least eight incidents of graffiti vandalism he is known
to have committed as an adult.
Under terms of the settlement approved by San Francisco Superior
Court Judge Ronald E. Quidachay, Romero, 20, agreed to a court-ordered
injunction barring him from possessing instruments such as spray
paint and markers defined as "graffiti tools" under
state law; forbidding him from trespassing or being within 100
yards of intersections where he is known to have committed graffiti
vandalism; and requiring him to observe a curfew within City limits
between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., with limited exceptions.
The injunctions will remain in effect for the next 60 months.
Romero also stipulated to pay civil penalties, fees and costs
to the City and County of San Francisco totaling $20,000, with
the City agreeing to waive half that amount as an incentive for
payment provided Romero makes regular payments totaling $10,000
within the next 48 months.
An additional provision of the stipulation requires Romero to
complete a public service announcement at the direction of the
Department of Public Works to warn others of the consequences
of committing graffiti vandalism in San Francisco.
"This settlement demonstrates that there is a tough, aggressive
role for civil law offices in helping deter conduct that causes
injury to taxpayers," Herrera said. "Would-be vandals
who believe they can damage public property and avoid criminal
conviction should understand that the law also allows for very
serious civil remedies, which can affect their ability to obtain
credit, get car loans or buy homes years down the road. Graffiti
vandalism imposes substantial direct costs on City taxpayers,
and no less significant indirect costs in terms of tourism and
quality of life. My office has an important role to play in fighting
public nuisances like these, and it's a role I intend to play
"I finally want to commend Mr. Romero for taking full responsibility
for his actions," Herrera added. "He deserves credit
for committing to right his own wrongdoing, and to warn other
would-be 'taggers' of the serious legal consequences they can
expect for graffiti vandalism in San Francisco."
The lawsuit filed in Superior Court earlier this month, which
was the first action of its kind in San Francisco, alleged that
Romero used monikers that included "LAFER," "COMA,"
"QUESO," "CREAM," and others to deface public
and private property as an adult between June 2004 and as recently
as May of this year. Romero is alleged to have committed the bulk
of his graffiti vandalism on light poles, street signs, garbage
receptacles and other public structures in and around Ocean Avenue
and Mission Street.
According to the City's civil complaint, Romero was arrested
and charged with at least six misdemeanor counts involving graffiti
vandalism on two separate occasions in 2005. He participated in
a City pre-trial diversion program and completed 39 hours of community
service as part of his sentence.
The civil case was prosecuted by the City Attorney's Neighborhood
and Resident Safety Division by Deputy City Attorneys Machaela
Hoctor, Yvonne Meré and Michael Weiss and Chief of Special
Litigation Owen Clements.
The case is City and County of San Francisco and the People of
the State of California v. Carlos Romero, San Francisco Superior
Court, Case No. CGC 06 453-926, filed July 7, 2006.