City's hoping to toughen penalties for skateboarding on public art

The city is eyeing tougher penalties for those who skateboard on public art and memorials.

A City Council committee approved today a bill sponsored by Councilman David Oh on behalf of the Nutter administration that would add public artwork and memorials to the city ban on skateboarding on public property and hike fines from $300 to $2,000 and imprisonment of up to 90 days.

Imprisonment would not be imposed on children and their parents.

“Philadelphia is known throughout the world for the high quality, extensive variety and sheer number of pieces of public art on view throughout the city,” said Gary Steuer, the city’s chief cultural officer. “When those works are defaced or damaged, it presents a negative image to residents and visitors alike.”

Steuer said damage to public art has cost taxpayers. During the 2008 budget crisis $50,000 dedicated to cleaning and maintaining public art under the department of public properties budget –was eliminated and has not been restored since.

The administration could not provide information as to how much money the city has collected from the fines currently on the books or information related to enforcement of the current law.

“The way it seems is that they’re not enforcing the current law,” Kenney said, asking city officials why $2,000 would scare anybody.

Steuer hopes the increased penalties would make skateboarders think twice.