Lake Forest Graffiti Vandals' Mother Fined $15,000

Mayor Kathryn McCullough says the ruling "serves as a warning to parents."

The Lake Forest mother of a serial graffiti tagger has been fined $15,000, according to this story in the Orange County Register.

Maria Gutierrez, the parent of the teenage boy who was caught 23 times marking up walls, businesses, utility poles and fences around the city with gang graffiti, was slapped with the fine by an Orange County Superior Court judge on Oct. 15.

The ruling is the first since city officials passed a tougher anti-graffiti ordinance last year that makes parents liable for damages and costs.

Other cases under the rejiggered ordinance are pending.

Mayor Kathryn McCullough voiced her support of the ruling. From the story:

"Graffiti is not a harmless crime – it is an act of vandalism that negatively impacts our community," Mayor Kathryn McCullough said. "When we passed the ordinance a year ago, we wanted to give the city more tools to combat graffiti and recover costs for removal, and we're glad to see it's working as intended. I hope this case serves as a warning to parents, guardians and youth about the consequences of committing acts of graffiti."

What do you think of the judge's ruling? Is a $15,000 fine against the mother too harsh a penalty?



Cindy Piel November 05, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Mason, I don't think it's as bad as graffiti or tagging, but agree that it's not attractive (and Mr. Nick isn't the only one with signs all over). Since our fair city has strick signage regulations on our businesses, there should be regulations for campaign signs also (suggestions: time limits for displaying, limits for number of signs put up, and fines for any signs still remaining up after election day).
Susan November 05, 2012 at 01:53 PM
I feel the fine is more then fair plus I also think the kid needs to do community service on top of that to really learn a lesson. And if I were his mother I would also make my son pay me back the $15,000 no matter how long it took. The problem with so many in this younger generation is everything is handed to them and they feel entitled. Thus the name "Entitlement Generation". Trust me if it comes out of their pocket it makes more of an impact. I wonder how taggers would feel if someone came into their home/yard and spray painted all over their personal space? It comes down to respect of others including other's property. Without respect graffiti is what you get. I am glad Lake Forest is getting tougher on it.
Caryn Maldonado November 06, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Replying to Andromeda's reply to me: I don't like the fact that taxpayers have to pay for the clean up either. I think the parents and tagger need to clean it up at their own expense. That is great community service. Everyone wants to punish the tagger but how does fining the parent do that exactly? Maybe if the parent has been unwilling to acknowledge the problem and has not cooperated with the city, then perhaps this financial hit is necessary but I'm not so sure. The city can fine the parent but the tagging will not stop unless the family dynamics are confronted. Like I said before, at this point the kid does not care what the parent has to go through. How does a parent stop a teen who has no regard for authority? One can take away all privileges, however that will not stop a determined teen. The thing most people don't understand is that this is not the average kid who would be ashamed of themselves and their behavior. There could be undiagnosed ADHD or personality disorders, drug use or child abuse involved. If the city is really serious about stopping the graffiti then pass a law to arrest these kids and send them to juvenile court. That is one way to force these kids to see this is not a joke. I think that mandatory family counseling would be a better way to find solutions.
MisturChips November 06, 2012 at 09:52 PM
I agree, Terry - There is no place for graffiti 'artistry' in our town - Makes me wonder if there should be, but then I remember the story of what happened at ~3AM to the budding artist in our community. It seems a group of folks out walking their dogs at night stumbled upon the future-picasso, and he ended up getting quite a beating / painting. The graffiti mysteriously stopped after that. If the City DOES spend $20k to collect, hopefully the judge simply tacks it on to the invoice for the parents to pay. Nothing like the scorn of a mother. I'm sure the kid will hear about it for years to come! Can't afford it? Work it off in community service (parent and child).
James Robert Reade November 13, 2012 at 04:56 AM
City of Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, are you listening?! If Lake Forest Mayor Kathryn McCullough can hold culpable parents accountable so can you and the City of Anaheim! I have brought forth public comment on parental responsibility laws for a year now and your administration has failed to act! Are you going to let a woman upstage you! James Robert Reade, Anaheim


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