Stats confirm that Graff is on the rise in L.A.. Officials place blame on internet (who, me?) and video games (peace to Cope2). Link

At the urging of Los Angeles officials alarmed about graffiti defacing the city’s many murals, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a measure into law Wednesday that requires those convicted of the vandalism to remove the scrawls and, in some cases, keep the tagged surfaces clean for one year.

The law was welcomed by many officials as another tool to use against a recent explosion of graffiti, but some gang experts were worried that it might put the offenders in jeopardy if they had to cover up graffiti by other gang members.

The measure applies to graffiti on any surface, including blank walls.

Los Angeles, which sponsored the legislation, has recorded a significant increase in graffiti in the last three years, from 25 million square feet of graffiti-stained surfaces in 2005 to 31.7 million in the year that ended June 30, said Paul Racs, director of the city’s Office of Community Beautification.

Last year, the city received reports of graffiti at 653,520 locations, 40,000 more than the year before, he said.

Racs said graffiti was increasing partly because it is celebrated on the Internet.