COLLINS, J. —
Defendant Christian Aguilar pled no contest to one count of felony vandalism (Pen. Code, § 594, subd. (a)).
In a felony complaint filed August 17, 2015, the District Attorney of the County of Los Angeles alleged that defendant caused damage exceeding $400 by painting graffiti on a wall belonging to the Foothill Childhood Development Center, Inc. (§ 594, subd. (a).) Defendant pled no contest to the charge, thereby admitting that he caused damage in excess of $400.
At the subsequent restitution hearing, the prosecution called as its witness Gerry Valido, a graffiti abatement coordinator with the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works. Valido testified that the graffiti at issue "was profane in nature and anti-police in nature, and it was sprayed in black spray paint across the length of the wall" of a day care center. The graffiti covered an area that was approximately 500 square feet: approximately 80 feet long and five or six feet high. Three photographs of the graffiti were admitted into evidence "by reference only." The day care center notified its city council member about the graffiti, and the city council member in turn contacted one of the City's graffiti removal contractors. The contractor, Northeast Graffiti Busters, abated the graffiti. Valido prepared an invoice for costs the City incurred as a result: $475. The invoice was admitted into evidence "by reference only."
Valido testified that he arrived at a cost of $475 by "utilizing the cost sheet that we use for these types of cases." He explained that $475 "is the flat rate for private property graffiti removal, and the costs are taken from a graffiti removal cost sheet which lists different surfaces and the costs of graffiti removal from those particular surfaces." Under this flat rate system, as the prosecutor put it, a vandal who "put[s] one sentence on a wall ... might get screwed," while someone who vandalizes "an 80-foot wall ... [will] benefit from that." According to Valido, the fixed price factored in "the costs for vehicles and maintenance, graffiti removal equipment, the cost of the personnel it takes to remove the graffiti, city administrative costs, [and] costs of insurance." That is, the rate of $475 "reflect[s] the cost of what it takes to run a city-wide graffiti removal program." Law enforcement investigative costs were not included.
On cross-examination, Valido conceded that the City does not pay its graffiti removal contractors on a per-incident basis. Instead, the contractors "receive an annual contract amount," and "get a 12th of their annual payment every month." Thus, Northeast Graffiti Busters did not receive $475 from the City for cleaning up appellant's graffiti. The monthly amount the contractor received was not dependent upon the number or complexity of the abatements it performed each month. Valido did not know the cost of the paint used to cover the graffiti, or the number of hours spent, or the hourly rate that was paid to the person or persons who actually performed the work. Valido also did not know the City's annual budget for graffiti abatement.
Defense counsel argued that the testimony Valido provided was insufficient to support an award of restitution under Luis M. v. Superior Court (2014) 59 Cal.4th 300 [173 Cal.Rptr.3d 37, 326 P.3d 969] (Luis M.). Counsel contended that Luis M. "does not permit a cost sheet analysis," like the one Valido did, because such analyses have "no actual relationship to the graffiti that is removed." She asserted that Valido properly could have tabulated the removal costs by tallying the exact costs of paint and labor, or by dividing the City's annual budget by the annual number of graffiti incidents and assessing appellant the cost of one incident. She also noted that, in her experience, "when a private individual does the repairs instead of the graffiti abatement program, we find repairs cost $100, $200, instead of the $475 in this case."
The prosecutor argued that Valido's testimony was adequate to support a restitution order under Luis M. He pointed out that the trial court examined photographs of the graffiti to assess its extent and scope, and that Valido had opined that $475 was a reasonable amount to abate the graffiti. He requested that the court order restitution in that amount, payable to the City.
The court agreed with the prosecutor. It stated that it looked "specifically at the holding of the California Supreme Court in Luis M., and their amendment does allow recovery." The court continued, "There was extensive damage as shown, and the court will note that if you get anyone to paint anything nowadays, good luck getting anything under $500. I think it is perfectly reasonable, and there is a nexus. That will be the order."
Appellant timely appealed.
On appeal, we review the trial court's order for abuse of discretion. (Gemelli, supra, 161 Cal.App.4th at p. 1542.) No abuse of discretion occurs if the restitution order is supported by a rational and factual basis. (Ibid.) We reverse only if the trial court's order is arbitrary or capricious. (Ibid.)
Defendant contends the trial court abused its discretion by violating the teachings of Luis M., a case involving a juvenile defendant which is relevant here because of the substantial similarities between section 1202.4 and the restitution statute for juveniles, Welfare and Institutions Code section 730.6. (Santori, supra, 243 Cal.App.4th at p. 126.) In Luis M., a minor defaced six locations in the City of Lancaster with nine acts of graffiti. (Luis M., supra, 59 Cal.4th at p. 303.) At his restitution hearing, a crime prevention officer used a
The Supreme Court concluded the order "was not based on sufficient evidence that the amount of claimed loss was a result of Luis's conduct." (Luis M., supra, 59 Cal.4th at p. 303.) It explained that the general restitution statute applicable to juvenile offenders, Welfare and Institutions Code section 730.6, which is "`parallel'" to section 1202.4, limits restitution to "`economic losses incurred as a result of the minor's conduct,'" such as "`the actual cost of repairing the property when repair is possible.'" (Id. at pp. 304, 305, original italics.) The award may include "the materials, equipment, and labor costs incurred for remediation," as well as "[p]reexisting expenditures, such as salaried employees and equipment purchases,... provided those costs can be fairly apportioned on a pro rata basis to the minor's conduct." (Id. at p. 309.) It may not include law enforcement investigative costs. (Id. at p. 305.) A trial court awarding restitution under Welfare and Institutions Code section 730.6 "need not ascertain the exact dollar amount of the City's losses," and "retains broad discretion ... to estimate the material, equipment, and labor costs necessary to repair the damage caused by a discrete act of graffiti," but its calculation "must have some factual nexus to the damage caused by the minor's conduct." (Id. at pp. 310, 309.)
Defendant argues that the trial court's order did not comply with the requirements of Welfare and Institutions Code section 730.6 because the court "based its estimate on an average of all costs of graffiti cleanup rather than a rational estimate of costs occasioned by Luis's conduct." (Luis. M., supra, 59 Cal.4th at p. 309, original italics.) The Supreme Court noted there was "no evidence of the size or type of Luis's graffiti," and "no evidence about the materials, equipment, and labor required to remove it." (Ibid.) By way of example, the court observed that it could not determine "if the City painted over a small area or used more expensive equipment to restore the property's
Defendant argues that the "evidence provided by the City in this case was even less substantial than that found lacking in Luis M." He asserts there was no evidence apportioning the costs of labor or materials, and no evidence of the city's annual graffiti removal budget or the number of incidents it must abate each year. He further argues that the photographs of the graffiti in this case "do not support a calculation of $475 without additional evidence." In his view, "the City must also provide an estimate of average cost per square foot to paint over the graffiti, or alternatively, the City could provide business records reflecting time and materials."
This case is analogous to Santori, supra, 243 Cal.App.4th 122. There, a crime prevention officer testified that it took the City an average of 100 minutes to remove a piece of graffiti. She examined photographs of an adult defendant's 32 instances of graffiti and concluded that 100 minutes was a reasonable estimate for each incident, even though some may have taken more time to remove and others less; she did not know the actual number of
The defendant contended that the evidence underlying the order was insufficient to establish the "factual nexus" required by Luis M. (Santori, supra, 243 Cal.App.4th at p. 126.) The Santori court disagreed and concluded that the witness "followed the ... mandate in Luis M. She was familiar with graffiti abatement and established the average cost per minute to restore the defaced surfaces.... In contrast to Luis M., here the crime prevention officer considered the photographs depicting defendant's graffiti when she calculated the cost to restore the defaced surfaces. [Her] opinion was based on defendant's graffiti[,] not just an average for removal of the city's graffiti." (Id. at p. 127.)
Defense counsel's assertion that the repairs could have been accomplished for "$100, $200, instead of the $475" was not supported by any evidence. Accordingly, it was not sufficient to overcome the prosecution's prima facie case, particularly in light of defendant's no contest plea to causing more than $400 in damage.
The trial court did not violate Luis M. or otherwise abuse its discretion in ordering defendant to pay $475 in restitution to the City of Los Angeles.
The restitution order is affirmed.
Epstein, P. J., and Willhite, J., concurred.