On Wednesday, the city of San Diego's Neighborhood Code Compliance issued a citation warning to the property owners of The Linkery (3794 30th St., North Park), asking them to remove the graffiti on the building by Dec. 6 or face a $250 fine (*scroll down to read the update on why the warning was issued).
Presumably referring to the large-scale commissioned artwork by the group Artist Domestic Educational Programs on the exterior wall of The Linkery (pictured left), the ticket says, "it is unlawful for any responsible person to maintain graffiti that has been placed upon or to allow graffiti to remain upon any surface within that person's control, posession or ownership when the graffiti is visible from the street or public property."---
Jay Porter, owner of The Linkery, took to Twitter to refute the ticket, initially blaming the San Diego Police Department for the citation but eventually following up with a correction. He put in a call to Neighborhood Code Compliance and says the issuing officer was nice about the possible mistake and "agreed to send someone to look at the piece in person," as she had initially just seen a photograph of the artwork.
Tony Khalil, a senior civil engineer at Neighborhood Code Compliance, said he didn't know anything about the citation, but he did say that it was up to his office to determine whether the art is graffiti or not.
When I walked over to snap a photo of the piece, an employee of the city's graffiti abatement program was inspecting the mural and told me it "looked good"—meaning it looked like art to him, not graffiti. He did, however, mention that the owners of The Linkery might take some time to scrub off two very faint chalk tags scrawled across other areas of the exterior wall.
I'm waiting from a call back from Khalil to further explain how the determination is made as to what's defined by his office as art and what's deemed illegal graffiti. It's an interesting question, especially in North Park where graffiti-like public art is common.
Here are some examples of public art located just across the street from The Linkery:
Check back for more info on whether The Linkery mural is allowable art or illegal graffiti, and how Neighborhood Code Compliance makes that distinction.
*Update Friday, Dec. 3, 1:50 p.m.:
Khalil says the mural on The Linkery "looks like an art piece that's been commissioned" and therefore meets code compliance standards. He says as long as a piece "appears to be commissioned or allowed" by the property owners, it does not fit the city's definition of graffiti.
The citation warning, Khalil says, was a response to what he believes began with an anonymous person submitting a complaint through the office's online form (he says he'll know where the complaint originated for sure by Monday). Khalil says it's standard procedure to issue a citation warning after looking at a photo of the reported complaint, at which point the property owner can dispute the claim.
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