HomeLatest NewsOakland's Target: 102-Year-Old Taxpayer Faces Fines for Graffiti in Crime-Plagued City

Oakland’s Target: 102-Year-Old Taxpayer Faces Fines for Graffiti in Crime-Plagued City

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Oakland, California has become a ghost city of closed businesses because of the high crime rate. Several businesses have closed their doors in Oakland, California over the past few months. In-N-Out announced in January that it was closing its first store. The successful hamburger chain, which originated in California, is a Golden State product. The company will close the store near the Oakland Airport next week. They cited frequent car break-ins and theft, as well as property damage.

Target closed down its downtown Oakland store last year after the police were called to over 100 smash-and-grab thefts. A Denny’s abruptly shut down in February after 54 years. Four Taco Bell restaurants in Oakland announced earlier this month that they will close their dining areas and only provide drive-thru services, no longer accepting payments by cash.

Authorities in Oakland are now taking action against a 102-year-old taxpayer who is confined to a wheelchair.

Victor Silva Sr. is an Oakland resident and has been paying taxes on his home for 80 years. He received a citation earlier this month from the city, which threatened him with a $1,100 fine if he did not remove graffiti from his house by Tuesday, the 19th of March. The city also imposed a penalty of $1,277 for every time that the property was inspected and failed. Silva said that his fence was often vandalized by graffiti.

Elena Silva, his daughter-in-law, called the situation “absurd.” She added,

It’s like a joke. If you drive around the city and see the graffiti everywhere, it’s just, I don’t know what to say.

Silva remembered his youth when he often painted over graffiti using a roller and a paintbrush.

I was an independent contractor and I will be 103 years old in about two months. It was a bit slower, you know.

Silva is fortunate to have the help of his 70-year-old son Victor Silva Jr. Their efforts to resolve the problem are usually futile, as new graffiti is often created shortly after they have covered it up. The Silva family has found this constant cycle of graffiti removal frustrating and time-consuming. Silva Jr. notes there were six different graffiti types painted on a large utility container located up the street from where his father lives.

Silva Jr. expressed frustration at the city by mentioning that his family’s small business had been the victim of three break-ins over the last year. In one case, he found an intruder on the premises. Silva Jr. claims that every time he called 911 to get an emergency response he was placed on hold.

It’s difficult to know where our tax money is going. They can’t call 911 but they can harass you over the fence. I’d hate to think other 100-year-olds are harassed in this way. Oakland must change. The system does not work.

Amid the media bringing attention to the situation, an inspector from the city indicated that he would examine the graffiti immediately and likely revoke Silva’s citation.

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