Zero Graffiti for a Beautiful City: The Cultural Politics of Urban Space in San Francisco
This research was supported by a Portland State University Faculty Enhancement Grant awarded for 2008–2009.
San Francisco, like many cities in the United States and across the world, has an official zero-tolerance policy on graffiti. In this article, we examine the academic literature concerned with graffiti and then present a case study of zero-tolerance abatement policies in San Francisco. Our analysis yields three main findings. First, zero-tolerance policy stimulates an anti-graffiti industry with vested interest in perpetuating an endless war for control of public space. Second, zero tolerance may generate an unintended result—the proliferation of tags and other forms of graffiti that people tend to dislike the most. Third, we find little evidence that the general public shares the same desire for zero tolerance as the San Francisco Government. Ultimately, we believe that more nuanced readings of graffiti allow greater numbers of people to make sensible, local, place-specific policies regarding graffiti.
Locate the Document
Shobe, H. and D. Banis. (2014). Zero Graffiti for a Beautiful City: The Cultural Politics of Urban Space in San Francisco, Urban Geography 35:4, 586-607.