San Antonio endorses bill making graffiti punishable by mandatory jail time


by Mayra Moreno / KENS 5

Posted on January 16, 2013 at 9:47 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 16 at 10:17 PM

SAN ANTONIO, Texas --  San Antonio officials said a slap on the wrist is no longer an option for those who vandalize buildings. Offenders will get mandatory jail time or their drivers license suspended.

The city is endorsing House Bill 38 hoping to put an end to the costly problem of graffiti.

Jacob Valenzuela, owner of Deco Pizzeria, is proud to own a piece of San Antonio history.

"A lot of folks remember this as a gas station," said Valenzuela about his Fredericksburg Road business.

However, Valenzuela puts a lot of extra time, work and money into his business to clean up a problem plaguing certain parts of the city.

"If you drive up and down Fredericksburg Road you'll see not just my building but other buildings have been tagged the past months," said Valenzuela.

"A lot of folks have said, 'Enough is enough,'" said Councilman Cris Medina.

Medina said the city wants to come down even harder on offenders and send a strong message.

"We're not going to tolerate it," said the councilman.

They're endorsing HB 38 in Austin. If passed, graffiti would become a class A misdemeanor that comes with mandatory jail time. Those convicted could get their drivers license suspended. The parent would be responsible for restitution.

"Hopefully, that will allow them to think twice about tagging because they won't be able to drive," said Medina.

HB 38 would even increase the fines for those defacing historic buildings. That's good news for Valenzuela.

"I'm in full favor of the bill. It will send a loud message to those vandals that continue to graffiti our neighborhoods," he said.