VI. Offenses Against Property

Chapter 9.70
GRAFFITI

Sections:

9.70.010  Purpose.

9.70.020  Graffiti definition.

9.70.030  Graffiti prohibition.

9.70.040  Notice.

9.70.050  Service of notice.

9.70.060  Reimbursement of cost of labor and material.

9.70.070  Removal by city.

9.70.080  Liability for city’s cost of abatement.

9.70.090  Abatement of graffiti as a public nuisance.

9.70.010  Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide a program for removal of graffiti from walls and structures on both public and private property and to provide regulations designed to prevent and control the further spread of graffiti in the city. The increase of graffiti on both public and private buildings, structures, and places is creating a condition of blight within the city, which results in a deterioration of property and business values for adjacent and surrounding properties all to the detriment of the city. The city council finds and determines that graffiti is obnoxious and a public nuisance which must be abated so as to avoid the detrimental impact of such graffiti on the city and to prevent the further spread of graffiti. (Ord. 04-2005 § 1, 2005).

9.70.020  Graffiti definition.

For the purpose of this chapter, "graffiti" shall mean the unauthorized spraying of paint or marking of ink, dye, or other similar indelible substances or adhesive materials on public and/or private buildings, structures and places. Structures include but are not limited to public utility cabinets, vaults, poles, fences, walls and trees. (Ord. 04-2005 § 1, 2005).

9.70.030  Graffiti prohibition.

A.  No person shall place graffiti upon any publicly or privately owned permanent or mobile structure located on publicly or privately owned real property within the city. Violation of this subsection shall be a misdemeanor.

B.  No person owning or otherwise in control of any real or personal property within the city shall permit or allow any graffiti to be placed upon or remain on any permanent or mobile structure located on such property when the graffiti is visible from the street or other public or private property for a period in excess of that described in this chapter for notice and removal of graffiti. Violation of this subsection shall be a misdemeanor. (Ord. 04-2005 § 1, 2005).

9.70.040  Notice.

Whenever the chief of police or his or her designee determines that graffiti exists on any permanent structure in the city, which graffiti is visible from the street or other public or private property, he or she shall cause a notice to be issued to abate such nuisance. The property owner shall have five days after the receipt of the notice to remove the graffiti, or the graffiti will be subject to abatement by the city. (Ord. 04-2005 § 1, 2005).

9.70.050  Service of notice.

The notice to abate graffiti shall be served upon the owner(s) of the affected premises, as such owner’s name and address appears on the last equalized property tax assessment rolls of the county of Sonoma. In addition, if there is a commercial tenant using the premises, the notice shall also be served on said tenant. If there is no known address for the owner, the notice shall be sent in care of the property address. The notice required by this chapter may be served in any one of the following manners:

A.  By personal service on the owner, occupant, or person in charge or control of the property.

B.  By registered or certified mail addressed to the owner at the last known address of said owner. If this address is unknown, the notice will be sent to the property address. In addition, where the property is occupied, a copy of the notice shall be delivered to the occupant. (Ord. 04-2005 § 1, 2005).

9.70.060  Reimbursement of cost of labor and material.

In the event the property owner complies with the notice by the designated date or such continued date, as the chief of police or his or her designated representative approves, then the city shall reimburse the property owner his, her, or its cost of labor and materials up to a maximum amount established by resolution for each incident of graffiti on the property if such reimbursement is requested. Receipts for labor and materials used must accompany the claim request. The city shall not reimburse the property owner where the chief of police finds that the owner has persuaded, allowed, or encouraged the graffiti problem. Evidence thereof shall include such things as: the owner has permitted the property to remain unoccupied, has allowed uses conducive to the graffiti problem, or has failed to take reasonable security measures. (Ord. 04-2005 § 1, 2005).

9.70.070  Removal by city.

Upon failure of persons to comply with the notice to abate by the designated date, or such continued date thereafter as the chief of police or his or her designated representative approves, the chief of police is authorized and directed to cause the graffiti to be abated by city forces or private contract, and the city or its private contractor is expressly authorized to enter upon the premises for such purposes. All reasonable efforts to minimize damage from such entry shall be taken by the city, and any coating used to obliterate graffiti shall be as close as practicable to background color(s). (Ord. 04-2005 § 1, 2005).

9.70.080  Liability for city’s cost of abatement.

Where the graffiti has been abated by the city due to the refusal or failure of the owner to do so, the owner shall reimburse the city for the actual cost of the removal of the graffiti. The costs to be reimbursed include labor, material, preparation of specifications and contracts, and inspection. The cost of such abatement as determined by the city council may become a special assessment and lien against the property, which assessment may 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 and sale in case of delinquency as provided for ordinary municipal taxes. All laws applicable to the levy, collection and enforcement of municipal taxes shall be applicable to such special assessment. (Ord. 04-2005 § 1, 2005).

9.70.090  Abatement of graffiti as a public nuisance.

As an alternate to summary abatement, the city may cause the graffiti to be abated pursuant to Chapter 14.30 SMC relating to abatement of nuisances. (Ord. 04-2005 § 1, 2005).