Chapter 6.75


6.75.010    Graffiti defined.

6.75.020    Placement of graffiti prohibited.

6.75.030    Graffiti prohibited.

6.75.040    Display of aerosol spray paint containers and marker pens.

6.75.050    Graffiti declared a nuisance.

6.75.060    Removal by city.

6.75.070    Removal by owner.

6.75.080    Violations.


As used in this chapter, “graffiti” means any unauthorized form of painting, scratching, writing or inscription, regardless of the content or nature of the material used, which is placed upon any private structure, fixture, sign or sidewalk in any location where it can be viewed from any public street, walkway, building, park, or facility, or upon any public structure, fixture, sign or sidewalk, and which is without the authorization of the owner or the other person in control of the property.

(Ord. 93-43 (part), 1993).


It shall be unlawful to place any graffiti within the city of Santa Cruz.

(Ord. 93-43 (part), 1993).


It shall be unlawful for any person owning or otherwise in control of any real property within the city of Santa Cruz to permit or allow any graffiti to remain on such property.

(Ord. 93-43 (part), 1993).


It shall be unlawful on or after July 1, 1994 for any person who owns, conducts, operates or manages a retail commercial establishment selling aerosol paint containers, or marker pens with tips exceeding four millimeters in width, containing anything other than a solution which can be removed with water after it dries, to store, or cause such aerosol paint containers or marker pens to be stored, in any area accessible to the public in the regular course of business without employee assistance, pending legal sale or disposition of such marker pens or aerosol paint containers.

(Ord. 93-43 (part), 1993).


Graffiti is hereby determined to be a nuisance because its continued existence constitutes a visual blight upon the area in which it is located.

(Ord. 93-43 (part), 1993).


(a)    Because prompt removal is the greatest disincentive to graffiti and minimizes the blight created by graffiti, the city manager is authorized to develop procedures and/or volunteer programs whereby city personnel or other persons under direction of the city may enter onto private property and remove or paint over the graffiti. Such a program shall include provisions requiring the city to first attempt to notify the affected property owners, and upon notification, providing them with an opportunity to promptly eradicate the graffiti. However, if the property owner does not promptly eradicate the graffiti or make arrangements satisfactory to the city for eradication of the graffiti within five working days of actual notice or within seven days of mailed notice, city agents may do so.

(b)    If the property owner(s) cannot be promptly contacted personally or by mail within seven days of the first attempted notification, city agents may proceed to eradicate the graffiti. The city council recognizes that the paint used in such eradication efforts may not closely match the existing paint; however, the city council finds that the eradication will not damage private property more than the damage that has already resulted from the graffiti. The eradication authorized by this section shall not, without property owner permission, extend to areas not readily visible to the general public. Nothing in this section shall preclude the city of Santa Cruz from abating graffiti pursuant to Section 6.75.070 or Chapter 1.10 of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code.

(Ord. 93-43 (part), 1993).


(a)    As an alternative to the removal procedures set forth in Section 6.75.060, this section may be used where the police chief finds special circumstances are present.

(b)    As used in this section, the term “special circumstances” shall include, but not be limited to, those situations where the owner has allowed or encourages the graffiti problem. Evidence thereof may include the fact that the owner has permitted the property to become unoccupied or has allowed uses thereon which are conducive to the graffiti, the fact that the property has an abandoned appearance, the fact that adequate security measures are not taken or the fact that the property owner has failed or refused to consent to the removal of the graffiti by the city.

(c)    Whenever the police chief determines that graffiti exists on any permanent structure in the city of Santa Cruz and that special circumstances exist, the police chief shall notify the owner(s) of such property, and may notify the person(s) in possession or control of such property if different from the owner(s), to remove or paint over the graffiti. The removal shall be accomplished within five working days after receipt of such notification or within five working days after the notice is deemed to have been received in the event notice is mailed pursuant to the provisions of subsection (d) of this section.

(d)    The notice to remove graffiti shall be given by delivery of a written notice personally to the owner(s) of the property upon which the graffiti is located, or by depositing such notice in the United States mail, postage prepaid, and addressed to the owner(s) thereof at the owner(s) last known address as the same appears on the last equalized assessment roll of the county of Santa Cruz. In the event a notice to remove is also given to the person(s) in possession or control of the property, such notice shall be given in either manner specified in this subsection with respect to giving notice to the owner of the property, and may be addressed to “occupant” or “to whom it may concern,” if the name of such person(s) is not known.

(e)    Upon failure of persons notified to comply with a notice to remove graffiti, within the time limits specified in this section, city personnel, or volunteers working at the city’s direction, may cause the graffiti to be removed or painted over and shall file a report with the city council advising that the removal was required and has been done, the cost of doing such work and the name of the owner(s) of the property upon which the work was required and from whom the cost of the work is to be recovered.

(f)    The city council shall conduct a hearing upon the report for the purpose of hearing all protests and objections to same, the work done thereunder and the costs contained therein. At least ten days in advance of such hearing, the city clerk shall notify the persons owning property upon which work was performed of the date, time and place of such hearing and the total cost to be charged against such person and property, which total cost shall include such charges as the city council, by resolution, has determined for administrative expenses connected with the removal and the collection of costs therefor. The notice provisions of subsection (d) of this section shall be applicable to the notices required to be sent under this subsection.

(g)    At the public hearing, the city council shall hear and determine all protests and objections to the report and the work done thereunder and costs contained therein, and shall, by resolution, confirm, amend, or reject the report, either in whole or in part.

(h)    The council shall, after such hearing, forward its confirmed report to the director of finance, with instructions to collect the total costs of the work of removal by billing the property owner(s). If such costs are not paid within thirty days, the director of finance shall have the costs entered upon the assessment roll, to be collected at the same time and in the same manner as ordinary municipal taxes are collected, and shall be subject to the same penalties and the same procedure under foreclosure for sale and in case of delinquency as provided for in ordinary municipal taxes; or, if such costs are not paid within thirty days, the city council may, at its option, by resolution, order that all of the costs of removal, as shown in the confirmed report, shall constitute liens upon the property from which such removal was made, and direct the director of finance to record a certified copy of such resolution in the office of the recorder of the county of Santa Cruz. The city attorney may thereupon proceed to foreclose each on such liens and to collect all of the amounts owing to the city in the manner provided by law.

(Ord. 93-43 (part), 1993).

6.75.080 VIOLATIONS.

(a)    Any person knowingly and willfully violating the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished in accordance with Chapter 1.08 of this code.

(b)    Except as provided in subsection (a) of this section, any person violating, or causing or permitting the violation of, this chapter shall be deemed guilty of an infraction and shall be punished by a fine in accordance with Chapter 1.08 of this code; provided, however, that any offense which would otherwise be an infraction shall be a misdemeanor if a defendant has been convicted of three or more violations of this chapter within the twelve-month period preceding the commission of the offense alleged in the accusatory pleading. For this purpose, a bail forfeiture shall be deemed to be a conviction of the offense charged.

(c)    If a minor is personally unable to pay any fine levied for violating this chapter, the parent or legal guardian of the minor shall be liable for payment of the fine. A court may waive payment of the fine by the parent or legal guardian upon a finding of good cause.

(d)    Any individual found guilty of a violation of this section shall reimburse the city of Santa Cruz for any and all costs the city may incur in removing the graffiti. Such reimbursement shall be in addition to any other penalties imposed by the court pursuant to this section. If the violator is a minor, the parent or guardian shall also be responsible for such reimbursement.

(e)    In addition to any other available remedies and penalties, any violation(s) shall also be subject to the remedies and penalties provided for in Chapter 1.10 of this code.

(Ord. 93-43 (part), 1993).