Chapter 8.55
GRAFFITI ABATEMENT

Sections:

8.55.010    Intent and purpose.

8.55.020    Graffiti defined.

8.55.030    Obligation to remove graffiti.

8.55.040    Graffiti declared a nuisance.

8.55.050    Removal by County.

8.55.060    Private property consent forms.

8.55.070    Graffiti on public property.

8.55.080    Violations.

8.55.010 Intent and purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide for the removal of graffiti or other inscribed material from public and private property within the unincorporated area of the County of Santa Cruz and to establish regulations designed to prevent and control the spread of graffiti in the unincorporated area of the County.

The Board of Supervisors finds and determines that graffiti on both public and private buildings, structures, and in other places creates a condition of blight within the unincorporated areas of the County which can result in the deterioration of property values, business opportunities, and enjoyment of life for persons using adjacent and surrounding properties. The Board of Supervisors further finds and determines that graffiti is inconsistent with the County’s property maintenance goals, crime prevention programs, and aesthetic standards and, unless graffiti is quickly removed from public and private properties, other properties soon become the targets of graffiti. The Board of Supervisors further finds and determines that graffiti or other inscribed material is a public nuisance and is obnoxious and injurious to the public health, safety and welfare of the people of the County of Santa Cruz and, therefore, should be rapidly abated as provided in this chapter. [Ord. 4419 § 1, 1996].

8.55.020 Graffiti defined.

As used in this chapter, “graffiti” means any form of painting, scratching, writing or inscription, regardless of the content or nature of the structural component or 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 placed without the prior authorization of the owner or other person in control of the property. [Ord. 4419 § 1, 1996].

8.55.030 Obligation to remove graffiti.

It shall be unlawful for any person owning or otherwise in control of any real property within the unincorporated area of the County of Santa Cruz to permit or allow any graffiti to remain on such property beyond the time period set forth in the second notice provided pursuant to SCCC 8.55.050(A) unless the person has made satisfactory arrangements with the County within that time period for the eradication of the graffiti. [Ord. 4419 § 1, 1996].

8.55.040 Graffiti declared a nuisance.

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. 4419 § 1, 1996].

8.55.050 Removal by County.

(A)    Because prompt removal is the greatest disincentive to graffiti and minimizes the blight created by graffiti, the Public Works Director is authorized to develop procedures and/or volunteer programs whereby County personnel or other persons under direction of the County may enter onto private property and remove or paint over graffiti. Such a program shall include provisions requiring the County to first attempt to notify the affected property owners, and upon notification, providing them with an opportunity to promptly eradicate the graffiti. The County shall contact property owners requesting that the owners either eradicate the graffiti or make satisfactory arrangements for the eradication of the graffiti within five working days of actual notice or seven working days of mailed notice. If property owners do not eradicate the graffiti or make arrangements satisfactory to the County for the eradication of the graffiti within this time period, a second notice shall be provided stating that, if the owners do not either eradicate the graffiti or make satisfactory arrangements for the eradication of the graffiti within five working days of actual notice or within seven working days of mailed notice, County agents may do so. Making satisfactory arrangements would include granting permission to the County to eradicate the graffiti.

(B)    If the property owner(s) cannot be promptly contacted personally or by mail within seven working days of the second attempted notification, County agents may proceed to eradicate the graffiti. The County’s eradication program shall make every effort to match the existing paint as closely as possible, especially as viewed from the nearest public sidewalk or roadway. 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 County of Santa Cruz from abating graffiti pursuant to any other section or sections of the County Code. [Ord. 4419 § 1, 1996].

8.55.060 Private property consent forms.

Property owners in the unincorporated area of the County of Santa Cruz may consent in advance to entry onto their private property by agents of the County for graffiti removal purposes. The County will make forms for such consent available. The consent may be given to remove currently existing graffiti only or to remove any future graffiti that may be placed on the property for a period not to exceed two years. Consent to remove graffiti in the future shall become void upon change of ownership of the property unless agreed to by the new owner(s). [Ord. 4419 § 1, 1996].

8.55.070 Graffiti on public property.

Notwithstanding SCCC 8.55.050, where a property on which graffiti has been placed is owned by a public entity other than the County, the removal of the graffiti may be authorized only after securing the consent of an authorized representative of the public entity having jurisdiction over the property. The consent may be given to remove currently existing graffiti only or to remove any future graffiti that may be placed on the property for a period not to exceed two years. [Ord. 4419 § 1, 1996].

8.55.080 Violations.

(A)    Any person knowingly and wilfully violating the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished in accordance with SCCC 1.12.030.

(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 SCCC 1.12.040; 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 12-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)    Any person found guilty of a violation of this chapter shall reimburse the County of Santa Cruz for any and all costs the County may incur in removing the graffiti. Such reimbursement shall be in addition to any other penalties imposed by the court pursuant to this section.

(D)    In addition to any other available remedies and penalties under State or County law, any violation(s) of this chapter or any placement of graffiti within the unincorporated area of the County of Santa Cruz shall also be subject to the remedies and penalties provided in Chapter 1.12 SCCC. [Ord. 4419 § 1, 1996].