City Council Considers $5,000 Reward for Info Leading to Art Box Vandal(s) Arrest

To catch the vandal (or vandals) defacing art-adorned utility boxes, the city will offer a cash reward for information leading to the perpetrator’s arrest.

For the past couple of months, someone has painted a gray primer over at least seven utility box murals painted as part of the San Jose Art Box Project. On Tuesday, District 6 Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio will ask the City Council to authorize a $5,000 reward for the tipster who helps police find the culprit.

“The perpetrator's vandalism has robbed local communities of the unique work of numerous volunteer artists and disrupted the character and spirit of the areas they were located in,” Oliverio wrote in memo. “These art boxes provided cultural and social distinction to the communities they were located in, and were created and coordinated by the efforts of civic-minded volunteers.”

Some passersby have reported seeing the perpetrator, but assumed the person was preparing the art box for a new mural. According to the Mercury News, the latest target was a box on Hamilton by Pine Avenue. The serial vandal slathered primer over a painted homage to the region’s agricultural roots.

One art critic deemed the crime spree worse than run-of-the-mill tagging. “It’s vandalism to make the streets more bland —let’s call it ‘blandalism,’” Ben Sutton wrote for the art blog Hyperallergic.

The art box project, launched in 2011 by activist Tina Morrill, relies not on city funding but private donations. Artists participated largely for the exposure and to beautify the community.

About 80 art boxes are scattered throughout San Jose, according to the project’s Google Maps page.

Police encourage the public to call 9-1-1 if they see the perpetrator in action. Anonymous tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 408.947.7867.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for January 12, 2016:

  • After organizing a cat video festival last fall, Councilman Oliverio wants to host a similar event for dog lovers. The Canine Film Festival will be held Feb. 28 at Cinelux Almaden Café and Lounge 2306 Almaden Road. The free event will feature eight short films about the relationship between dogs and their human companions.
  • Since the mid-1990s, a state law called Costa-Hawkins has stymied local rent controls by exempting apartments built after a certain date. Council members Don Rocha and Raul Peralez want the city to lobby state lawmakers to modify the legislation. “Given the over 4,000 residents of San Jose who are homeless each night and the rapid displacement of the middle class occurring in our city, we have a moral and economic imperative to act immediately,” they wrote.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

7 Comments

  1. Is there any chance that there are decent photographs of the artwork? Maybe it would be possible to make one of those vinyl car wraps with that image on them and re-create the vandalized work?

  2. I don’t believe that rent control has anything to do with homelessness. A homeless person will not be able to afford to rent whether it’s 1600 per month or 5% more than that. I think the real solution for homelessness is a mix of institutionalized care and free or low cost dorm style housing in a location with affordable land prices.
    Oddly, one more unintended consequence of rent control is that the most generous landlords are disproportionately affected by tenants fighting evictions in court, etc, since the lower the rent, the harder the tenant will fight to stay. This encourages more landlords to raise prices maximally every year.

  3. By all accounts, fully half of the homeless in the Bay Area have severe mental health issues. There is little reason to believe this fact does not hold true throughout California. All the solutions for them proposed and implemented so far have been little more than band aids. If Council members Rocha and Peralez want to lobby Sacramento about homelessness, they should lobby for a serious re-evaluation and modification of the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, not expansion of rent control for the non-homeless. LPS was a marvelous Pollyanna-ish theory, with huge unanticipated consequences which we see on our streets daily, especially in DT SJ, SF, and Oakland. The problem of the seriously mentally ill homeless population can be handled best by institutionalizing these folks permanently, not just for a 72 hour LPS hold and release with some meds. Left to wander after being released from a local hospital, they soon stop taking their meds, and return to their pre-admission status, over and over again. It’s like the movie Groundhog Day; yet governments, and the homeless lobby crowd who profit from government grants, keep proposing and implementing endless variations of the same unsuccessful “solutions.”
    Another large segment of the homeless population isn’t looking for permanent homes of any kind. Leave them alone. Don’t waste any more taxpayer money on them.
    Concentrating on the working poor could yield the best outcomes.

    • > The problem of the seriously mentally ill homeless population can be handled best by institutionalizing these folks permanently, not just for a 72 hour LPS hold and release with some meds.

      Y-E-E-E-S-S-S-S-S-SSSSSSSS!

      Perhaps you can explain briefly how the mentally ill were “deinstitutionalized” in the first place. I understand that Jerry Brown’s daddy, Pat Brown, was the perp. But the left wing moonbats seem to want to blame it on Ronald Reagan.

      > Another large segment of the homeless population isn’t looking for permanent homes of any kind. Leave them alone. Don’t waste any more taxpayer money on them.

      Y-E-E-E-S-S-S-S-S-SSSSSSSS! Again.

      You’re on fire, today, JMO.

      As I have proposed on numerous occasions, many of “the homeless” are simply people governed by the primitive human ethos of tribalism. They make their living as “hunter gatherers”. In the modern world, that translates to “foraging” the welfare system and dumpster diving.

      An inherent trait of the primitive ethos is that tribalist foragers are nomadic.As you brilliantly assert: “they aren’t looking for permanent homes of any kind.”.

    • …and please STOP handing out buckets of paint primer at Second Harvest Food Bank.

  4. The sickos who vandalize private or public properties must be stripped naked in a public square, tied to a pole and be given a good beating.