Oakland Orders 102-Year-Old Man to Clean Graffiti on Fence or Pay Thousands

(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
2:43 PM – Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Runaway graffiti, which is occasionally referred to as urban art, is frequently mentioned by city officials as a prominent indicator of disregard for both public and private property, as well as urban deterioration.


Although there are laws prohibiting graffiti, sometimes it is “not worth the trouble to enforce them,” one insider with the Oakland Police Department told the press.

However, 102-year-old Victor Silva, Sr., an Oakland native and wheelchair user, says that he consistently finds graffiti sprayed on his home’s rear fence. He has spent eight decades living in Oakland and paying taxes to the city. 

The 102-year-old received a violation notice earlier this month from the City of Oakland, requiring him to remove all graffiti on his fence by Tuesday, or risk paying a fine of $1100 and an extra $1277 for each re-inspection that fails.

“It was so absurd; 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,” said his daughter-in-law, Elena Silva.

When Silva Sr. was much younger, and before he was forced to spend his remaining years sitting in a wheelchair, he frequently painted over the fence graffiti himself. He said that it was no issue in the past, but that his age finally caught up with him.

“[I] just had a roller and a paintbrush and just painted it. It was very easy because I was a contractor, you know. I’ll be 103 in two months or so. That slowed it up a little bit, you know,” said Silva Sr.

These days, Silva explained to reporters that he is forced to ask his son, Victor Silva Jr., to clean up the graffiti designs instead.

“It’s hard to keep up with it because as soon as we get it painted, it’s gonna be graffiti on it again, and it won’t last,” said his son, Silva Jr.

The Silva family also owns a small business space nearby that has experienced three break-ins in the previous year. Silva Jr. claimed to have even found an intruder who had broken in and was camped out there. Soon after, he dialed 9-1-1 and made an effort to talk to officials.

“And I’m put on hold every time. So it’s hard to understand where our tax dollars are going. They can’t answer 911, but they can come out and hassle you about a fence?” he continued.

“I would hate to think that there [are] other hundred-year-old people that are being harassed like this. Oakland has to change. The system is not working,” said Silva Jr.

When the Oakland city inspector found out that Silva Sr.’s story was making the rounds on social media and becoming viral, he got in touch with the outlet KTVU and promised to do an inspection right away. He also said that he would take steps to “most likely” cancel the citation.

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