Chapter 9.42


9.42.010    Declaration of policy--Public nuisance.

9.42.020    Definitions.

9.42.030    Prohibited acts--Possession of graffiti implements.

9.42.040    Notice of graffiti nuisance.

9.42.050    Appeal.

9.42.060    Removal by city.

9.42.070    Violation--Penalty.

9.42.080    Additional enforcement procedures.

*Prior legislation: Ord. 1194.

9.42.010 Declaration of policy--Public nuisance.

A. Graffiti and other defacement of public and private property, including but not limited to walls, rocks, bridges, buildings, fences, gates and other structures, trees, and other real and personal property within the city constitute a nuisance.

B. Although it is appropriate, where possible, to request that the courts require people who are convicted of acts of defacement and vandalism involving application of graffiti to public or private property to restore the property so defaced, damaged, or destroyed, obtaining convictions for such acts is difficult, because the offenses involved can be committed so very quickly and secretively that witnesses to the acts are frequently nonexistent.

C. Although the public should be encouraged to cooperate in the elimination of graffiti by reporting the same to the proper authorities, and to remove the same from private property, it is also important to eliminate the presence of graffiti from the community so that the product of illegal acts of those involved in application of graffiti is not visible and the property on which the graffiti is located and surrounding properties do not suffer diminution of value. (Ord. 2021-4 §1, 2021)

9.42.020 Definitions.

A. “Aerosol paint container” means any aerosol container, regardless of the material from which it is made, which is adapted or made for the purpose of spraying paint, dye, or other substances.

B. “Felt tip marker” means any indelible marker or similar implement, with a tip at its broadest width greater than one-eighth inch, containing anything other than a solution which can be removed with water after it dries.

C. “Graffiti” means the defacing, unauthorized inscription, damaging or destroying by etching, spraying of paint or marring by ink, chalk, dye, stickers, papers, or other similar substances on public or private buildings, structures and places.

D. “Graffiti implement” means any aerosol paint container, felt tip marker, graffiti stick or paint stick, gum label, sticker, brush, roller, or etching tool or any other device capable of scarring or marking any surface, including but not limited to glass, metal, concrete, or wood, or any scrapbook pieces, papers, or drawings illustrating graffiti marks or signs.

E. “Graffiti stick” or “paint stick” means any device containing a solid form of paint, chalk, wax epoxy, or other substance capable of being applied to a surface by pressure, and upon application, leaving a mark at least one-sixteenth of an inch in width.

F. “Gum label” means any sheet of paper, fabric, plastic, or other substance with an adhesive backing which, when placed on a surface, is not immediately removable.

G. “Private contractor” means any person with whom the city shall have duly contracted to remove graffiti. (Ord. 2021-4 §1, 2021)

9.42.030 Prohibited acts--Possession of graffiti implements.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to write, paint or draw upon any wall, rock, bridge, building, fence, gate, signage or other structure, tree or other real or personal property, either publicly or privately owned, any drawing inscription, figure or mark of the type which is commonly known and referred to as “graffiti” within the city without permission from the city.

B. It shall be unlawful for any person to possess graffiti implements. A person possesses graffiti implements in violation of this section when they possess any graffiti implement defined in Section 9.42.020(D) under circumstances evincing an intent to use or employ, or allow the same to be used or employed, in the commission of such a graffiti related or defacement offense, or under circumstances evincing an intent that some other person will use or employ the thing possessed in the commission of such offense(s).

C. Any person that violates this section shall be deemed guilty of a civil infraction and upon conviction thereof shall be punished as provided in Section 9.42.070. In the case of a minor, the parent(s) or guardian(s) having custody of the minor shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for the payment of all fines and/or restitution imposed as the result of a violation of this section, except that liability shall not be imposed upon any governmental entity, private agency, or foster parent assigned responsibility for an unemancipated minor pursuant to court order or the Department of Social and Health Services. In addition, any such person convicted of a violation of this section, and in the case of a minor, the parent(s) or guardian(s) having custody or control of the minor, shall be required to reimburse the city for the costs incurred by the city to enforce this section and/or abate the violation, including incidental costs and attorneys fees. (Ord. 2021-4 §1, 2021)

9.42.040 Notice of graffiti nuisance.

A. When the city has reason to believe that a property within the city may be a potential graffiti nuisance property, the code enforcement officer or designated representative shall cause a notice to be served upon the owner(s) of the affected property, as such owner’s name and address appears on the last property tax assessment rolls of Yakima County, Washington. If there is no known owner or address, the notice shall be mailed to any responsible party identified or located by the city (if any) and posted on the property. The notice required by this section may be served in either of the following manners:

1. By personal service on the owner.

2. By certified mail addressed to the owner at the last known address of said owner as set forth in the latest property tax assessment rolls of said owner. If the owner’s address is unknown, the notice will be sent via certified mail to a responsible party (if any) and posted on the property.

B. The notice shall be substantially in the following form:

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that you, as owner(s) or responsible party, are required, by ordinance of the City of Wapato, at your own expense, to remove or paint over the graffiti located on the property or structures located at (address), Wapato, Washington, which graffiti is visible to the public and constitutes a public nuisance, within ten (10) days of service of this notice. If you fail to abate the graffiti nuisance within said ten (10) days, the City may abate the graffiti nuisance by removal or painting over the graffiti. The cost of the abatement by the City or private contractors employed by the City to abate the nuisance will be assessed upon the subject property, and be a debt of the property owner(s).

(Ord. 2021-4 §1, 2021)

9.42.050 Appeal.

A. The owner(s) or other responsible party may appeal the notice of graffiti nuisance to the city council by filing a written notice of appeal with the code enforcement officer within ten days of the date of service of the notice. Filing of an appeal will stay, during the pendency of the appeal, any enforcement or actions by the city to abate the graffiti nuisance.

B. The city council, upon receipt of a notice of appeal from the code enforcement officer, shall set a public hearing date not less than thirty days from receipt of the notice of appeal, at which time the appellant(s) may appear and present evidence seeking relief from the notice of graffiti nuisance. The code enforcement officer, or his/her designated representative, may likewise present evidence at such appeal hearing.

C. Following the hearing, the city council shall render a written decision, including findings of fact, which decision shall be final and binding on the property owner(s) or responsible party unless appealed to the Yakima County superior court within twenty-one days of the date of the decision. (Ord. 2021-4 §1, 2021)

9.42.060 Removal by city.

A. Upon failure of the owner(s) or responsible party to comply with the notice by the designated date, or such continued date thereafter as the code enforcement officer or his/her designated representative approves, then the code enforcement officer or representative is authorized and directed to cause the graffiti to be abated by the city, including a private contractor hired by the city. The city or its private contractor shall be expressly authorized to enter upon the subject property for such purposes without further court order. The city, and/or its private contractor, shall take all reasonable efforts to minimize damage from such entry, and any paint or other medium used to cover graffiti, to the extent cleaning or removing the graffiti is impossible or impractical, shall be as close as possible to existing background color(s).

B. Property owners in the city may consent in advance to city entry onto private property for graffiti removal purposes.

C. The city shall have a lien for any civil penalty imposed and for the cost of any abatement and graffiti removal work, including incidental expenses and reasonable attorneys fees, done pursuant to this chapter against the real property that is subject to the abatement or graffiti removal under this chapter. (Ord. 2021-4 §1, 2021)

9.42.070 Violation--Penalty.

Except as otherwise specifically set forth herein, any person violating the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a civil infraction for each such violation and shall be subject to a monetary penalty in the amount of five hundred dollars per violation, and in addition thereto, shall be required to reimburse the city for the cost of the abatement by the city or private contractors employed by the city, including incidental costs and reasonable attorneys fees, which costs of abatement will be assessed upon the property as a lien. (Ord. 2021-4 §1, 2021)

9.42.080 Additional Enforcement Procedures.

The provisions of this chapter are not exclusive, and may used in addition to other enforcement alternatives authorized by the Wapato Municipal Code and/or state law. (Ord. 2021-4 §1, 2021)