BEVERLY — Spray paint could be returning to hardware and craft stores in Chicago.
Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) believes the longtime ban on the sale of spray paint in the city hurts hardware stores on the Far Southwest Side, and he teamed with Ald. Ed Burke (14th) in proposing lifting the restriction Wednesday at a meeting of the City Council.
The city's spray paint ban dates to 1992. Enforcement began three years later after a Supreme Court ruling in favor of the city's attempt to curb graffiti.
Burke was the original author of the ban, which is also includes fines for illegal possession of spray paint. While he and O'Shea want to lift the ban on spray paint sales, their measure also would increase the fines for illegal possession of spray paint.
O'Shea said the ban encourages city residents — particularly those living close to surrounding suburbs — to shop outside of Chicago. When buying spray paint, these customers are also likely to shop for other items as well, he said.
"The loss to our business community is compounded," O'Shea said Thursday.
The new proposal restricts the sale of spray paint, broad-tipped markers and etching equipment to customers 18 and older. These items would also be required to be kept in an area not accessible to the general public without employee assistance.
Notices would also be required to be posted near these displays warning that “Vandalism is against the law and punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and incarceration for a term of up to 30 days.”
Minors found in possession of spray paint or other “graffiti implements” would face fines up to $500 per offense and be required to perform community service. Minors convicted of any subsequent offense in a one-year period would face three times the maximum fine, according to a written statement from Burke's office.
Fines are also increased for anyone convicted of helping an underage person buy graffiti implements. Under the proposed rules, these fines would range from $500 to $1,500 per offense.
Children younger than 18 have always been allowed to use spray paint under the supervision of a parent, teacher or employer.
Admittedly, O'Shea said graffiti is not much of a problem in his ward. Still, he said the ban hasn't eliminated the problem elsewhere, and perhaps increasing the fines will have the same impact without putting some businesses at a disadvantage.
The measure was sent for consideration to the Committee on License and Consumer Protection. O'Shea sits on the committee and said the change could be enacted by the City Council as early as next month.
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