Chapter 41


5-41.01    Findings and intent.

5-41.02    Definitions.

5-41.03    Graffiti abatement.

5-41.04    Failure to remove graffiti within seventy-two (72) hours.

5-41.05    Graffiti prevention education and training.

5-41.06    Graffiti on property owned by other public agencies.

5-41.07    Reward.

5-41.08    Restitution and penalties.

*    Chapter 41 entitled “Graffiti,” consisting of Sections 5-41.01 through 5-41.16, codified from Ordinance No. 949-94 C-M, eff. May 26, 1994, was repealed and replaced by Ordinance No. 1246-09 (CM), eff. June 11, 2009.

5-41.01 Findings and intent.

(a)    The purpose of this chapter is to provide for the rapid removal of graffiti from public and private property within the City. It is the intent of this chapter to provide for shared responsibility, as specified herein, between the City, owners of private property and tenants for the rapid removal of graffiti. This chapter also provides for persons convicted of graffiti vandalism to perform community service and to pay restitution. This chapter also provides for a reward of $500 for information leading to the arrest and filing of criminal charges for graffiti vandalism.

(b)    The City Council finds and determines that graffiti creates a condition of blight within the City which can result in the deterioration of property values, business opportunities, and the enjoyment of life for persons using adjacent and surrounding properties. The City Council further finds and determines that graffiti is inconsistent with the City’s property maintenance goals, crime prevention programs, and aesthetic standards, and unless graffiti is quickly removed, other properties soon become the targets of graffiti. The City Council further finds and determines that graffiti is a public nuisance as provided for in WMC Section 1-2.01 and is obnoxious and injurious to the public health, safety and welfare of the people of Watsonville and, therefore, should be rapidly abated as provided in this chapter. The City Council finds that persons convicted of graffiti vandalism shall perform community service work and pay for damages as a means to deter these persons from committing future acts of graffiti vandalism.

(§ 1, Ord. 1246-09 (CM), eff. June 11, 2009)

5-41.02 Definitions.

(a)    “Abate” and “abatement” shall mean to repair, replace, remove, cover up, or otherwise remedy a condition which constitutes a violation of this chapter by such means and in such a manner and to such an extent the Director determines is necessary in the interest of the general health, safety, and welfare of the community.

(b)    “Director” shall mean the Director of the Public Works and Utilities Department, Police Department, Community Development Department or their designee.

(c)    “Forty-eight (48) hour period” shall mean the time period starting when the City documents the existence of graffiti on a property.

(d)    “Graffiti” shall mean the unauthorized writing, painting, drawing, placement of adhesive, ink, solution, compound, marking pen or dye material, inscription, figure, carving, etching or mark of any type that has been placed upon any property.

(e)    “Graffiti nuisance” shall mean graffiti that has been documented by the City and located on private or public property that is visible from a public street or trail.

(f)    “Owner” shall mean any person, persons, entity or entities having a legal or equitable interest in real or personal property.

(g)    “Property” shall mean any real or personal property which is affixed, incidental, or appurtenant to real property, including, but not limited to, any structure, fence, wall, sign, sidewalk or any separate part thereof, whether permanent or not.

(h)    “Person in control” shall mean the person who is in immediate control of the premises or activity being conducted on the property.

(§ 1, Ord. 1246-09 (CM), eff. June 11, 2009)

5-41.03 Graffiti abatement.

(a)    Placement of Graffiti Prohibited. It shall be unlawful for any person to place graffiti or other inscribed materials upon any surface of any building, structure, fixture, sidewalk, sign or other facility located on publicly or privately owned real property within the City of Watsonville and such action shall be punishable to the fullest extent permitted under State and local law.

(b)    Allowing Graffiti to Remain on Property Prohibited. No owner, tenant or lessee may allow any property in which they have legal or equitable interest to be used as a location for placement of graffiti, or fail or refuse to remove, cover, or grant permission to the City to remove or cover the graffiti from the property when so ordered by the Director. Failure to remove graffiti shall be considered intentional creation of a graffiti nuisance.

(c)    Paint Matching Requirement. The surface and color used to cover over graffiti shall to the maximum extent possible match the surface and color upon which the graffiti was applied. Failure by property owners to match paint or surface when covering graffiti shall be considered failure to abate the violation and will be treated as noncompliance. The determination of matching paint shall be made by the Director using computerized paint matching devices or similar standardized tests. If the City repairs poorly matched graffiti cover up, the property owner will be responsible for the City’s actual costs of matching plus all applicable fines.

(d)    Abatement Process. Abatement of graffiti is the responsibility of the commercial property owner. Commercial property owners and tenants shall remove graffiti within seventy-two (72) hours of its placement. If not removed within seventy-two (72) hours, the City, or contractor hired by the City, will remove graffiti and impose conditions as described in Section 5-41.04. All removal responsibility resides with the commercial property owner and must be removed as per Section 5-41.04. Painting or repair of more extensive areas on private property by the City is prohibited.

Commercial property owners and tenants are encouraged to implement graffiti prevention measures such as placement of lights, fencing and landscaping to prevent graffiti incidents and also to keep graffiti removal supplies on their property to facilitate immediate removal of graffiti. The City shall provide informational resources to assist commercial property owners and tenants with graffiti prevention and removal.

Should a commercial property owner fail to remove graffiti from a property, the following procedures shall be implemented.

(§ 1, Ord. 1246-09 (CM), eff. June 11, 2009, as amended by § 1, Ord. 1346-17 (CM), eff. February 23, 2017)

5-41.04 Failure to remove graffiti within seventy-two (72) hours.

Graffiti not removed by the commercial property owner within seventy-two (72) hours shall result in the issuance of a citation. The seventy-two (72) hour period begins when City staff documents the existence of the graffiti. Graffiti allowed to remain after seventy-two (72) hours shall be removed by the City or contractor hired by the City. The commercial property owner shall be responsible for reimbursing the City for all costs including materials, equipment, staff time and associated costs for the abatement of graffiti on their property, plus all applicable fines. Fines are to be consistent with the City’s penalty provisions in Chapter 1-2 which provides for fines of One Hundred and no/100ths ($100.00) Dollars for each violation. Failure to abate the violation or reimburse the City within thirty (30) days shall result in a lien being placed against subject property.

(§ 1, Ord. 1346-17 (CM), eff. February 23, 2017)

5-41.05 Graffiti prevention education and training.

Notices from the City may include recommendations and resources to assist in the prevention of graffiti, including but not limited to the following topics:

(a)    Preventative action including lighting, fencing, and landscaping and surveillance equipment.

(b)    Preparation for future incidents including a recommendation that the owner, property manager and/or tenant purchase paint and brushes or rollers to be stored on site.

(c)    Community resources including free paint and volunteer assistance.

(d)    Recommended graffiti removal methods including painted surfaces, block walls and other unpainted surfaces.

(e)    A list of contractors (not endorsed by the City) who may be hired by the owner to perform graffiti removal.

(f)    The effects of graffiti on the economy and quality of life.

(g)    The reward offered for information leading to the arrest of graffiti vandals.

(h)    Phone numbers for reporting graffiti in progress (911), the anonymous crime tip line, and the graffiti hotline to report graffiti remaining on property.

(§ 1, Ord. 1246-09 (CM), eff. June 11, 2009)

5-41.06 Graffiti on property owned by other public agencies.

Owners of property such as public or quasi-public agencies, including but not limited to utilities, telephone, railroad, television and schools, are required to comply with the provisions of this chapter.

(§ 1, Ord. 1246-09 (CM), eff. June 11, 2009)

5-41.07 Reward.

The City hereby offers a reward of Five Hundred ($500.00) Dollars for information leading to the arrest and filing of criminal charges against any person injuring, defacing or destroying public or private property by the placement of graffiti in violation of Section 5-41.03(a) of this code.

(§ 1, Ord. 1246-09 (CM), eff. June 11, 2009)

5-41.08 Restitution and penalties.

Persons convicted of graffiti vandalism shall pay and/or perform restitution to the maximum extent possible under State law including but not limited to the following:

(a)    Payment for damages.

(b)    Community service—a minimum of 208 hours. Up to 300 hours over a period of 240 days. (594.6(a) PC and 594.1(2) PC)

(c)    Parents shall be liable for fines of a minor child convicted of graffiti vandalism. (594(d) PC)

(d)    Parents may be required to clean up, repair or replace damaged property with their minor child. (594(c) PC)

(e)    Fines can be from $1000 to $5000. (594(2)(A) and 594(B) PC)

(f)    Jail terms can be up to 1 year in County jail or State prison. (594(b)(1) and 594(2)(A) PC)

(g)    May be ordered to attend counseling. (594(f) PC)

(h)    May be ordered to keep an area free of graffiti for up to 240 days. Parents shall be required to assist their minor child. (594(f) PC)

(i)    More than one act of vandalism committed in any consecutive 12-month period may be aggregated for the purposed penalty (felony or misdemeanor). (594(B)(3) PC)

(§ 1, Ord. 1246-09 (CM), eff. June 11, 2009)