Oakland Officials Force Disabled Centenarian To Repaint Graffitied Fence

Property damage, along with various other types of crime, have been on the rise in communities across California, and Oakland is a prime example of the trend. Golden State residents and business-owners have been forced to repair or replace property damaged and defaced by criminals — sometimes under threat of serious fines by local officials.

That was the case for one 102-year-old Oakland man whose fence was targeted by vandals. According to Victor Silva, who requires the use of a wheelchair, he received a notice from the city advising that if he did not paint over the black and red paint left on his fence, he could face an initial $1,100 fine as well as $1,277 penalties each time his property failed inspection thereafter.

Despite his advanced age and mobility limitations, he and his 70-year-old son started painting over the graffiti. This was not the first time Silva dealt with the issue, he explained, but it has become a much more onerous task as he aged.

“It was very easy because I was a contractor, you know,” he said of earlier incidents. “I’ll be 103 in two months or so. That slowed it up a bit, you know.”

His relatives say they are there to help, but offered sharp criticism for the local authorities who put the centenarian in such a position.

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

Victor Silva Jr., who has taken on the brunt of the task recently, said it is a Sisyphean task.
“It’s hard to keep up with it because as soon as we get it painted it’s going to be graffiti on it again and it won’t last,” he said.

Adding insult to injury, the younger Silva noted, is the fact that a utility box adjacent to his father’s property is covered in paint with no evidence that the city has prioritized removing that graffiti.

“I would hate to think that there [are] other hundred-year-old people that are being harassed like this,” he added.

Silva Jr. explained that a commercial building he manages a short distance from his father’s home has been vandalized on multiple occasions in recent months with no discernible intervention from law enforcement.

“So it’s hard to understand where our tax dollars are going,” he said. “They can’t answer 911 but they can come out and hassle you about a fence?”