[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Warwick 10-1-2001 by Ord. No. 2001-6. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose and intent of this chapter is to help provide a procedure for the prevention, prohibition and removal of graffiti from public and private property. This order is to protect against vandalism and deterioration and promote the health and safety of the Township. The Township Board of Supervisors is authorized to enact this chapter pursuant to 53 P.S. § 66506.
The Township Board of Supervisors finds that graffiti is a public nuisance and destructive of the rights and values of property owners, as well as the entire community. Graffiti is obnoxious, contributes to neighborhood deterioration and tends to remain on private and public property, unless it is immediately abated. The Township must act to prevent against the spread of graffiti and to avoid the detrimental impact on the neighborhoods and residents.
The Township Board of Supervisors intends, through the adoption of this chapter, to provide additional enforcement tools to protect public and private property from acts of vandalism and defacement. The Board does not intend for this chapter to conflict with any existing anti-graffiti state laws.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- To remove the graffiti by such means, in such a manner and to such extent as the Board of Supervisors or other agent appointed by the Board reasonably determines is necessary to remove the graffiti from public view.
- Any unauthorized inscription, word, figure, painting or other defacement that is written, marked, etched, scratched, sprayed, drawn, painted or engraved on or otherwise affixed to any surface of public or private property by any graffiti implement, to the extent that the graffiti was not authorized in advance by the owner or occupant of the property, or, despite advance authorization, is otherwise deemed a public nuisance by the Board.
It shall be unlawful for any person to apply graffiti or deface any natural or man-made surface on any Township owned property, or without the permission of the owner or occupant, on any private property.
It shall be unlawful for anyone to possess any graffiti implement while in or upon any public facility, park, playground, swimming pool, recreational facility, or other public building or structure owned or operated by the Township or while within 50 feet of an underpass, bridge abutment, storm drain, or similar types of infrastructure unless otherwise authorized by the Township.
All sidewalks, walls, buildings, fences, signs and other structures or surfaces shall be kept free from graffiti that is visible from the street or other public or private property.
Fines and imprisonment. Any person violating this chapter shall be punished by a minimum fine of $200 to a maximum of $600, or by imprisonment in the local jail for a term not to exceed 60 days, or by both fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court.
Minors. In the case of a minor, the parents or legal guardian shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for payment of all fines.
Failure of the parents or legal guardian to make payments will result in the filing of a lien on the parents' or legal guardian's property that includes the fine and administrative costs.
Upon an application and finding of indigence, the court may decline to order fines against the minor, parents or guardian.
Restitution. In addition to any punishment specified in this section, the court shall order any violator to make restitution to the victim for damages or loss caused directly or indirectly by the violator's offense in the amount or manner determined by the court. In the case of a minor, the parents or legal guardian shall be ordered jointly and severally liable with the minor to make the restitution.
The existence of graffiti on public or private property in violation of this chapter is expressly declared to be a public nuisance and, therefore, is subject to the removal and abatement provisions specified in this chapter.
It is the duty of both the owner of the property to which the graffiti has been applied and any person who may be in possession or who has the right to possess such property to at all times keep the property clear of graffiti.
Removal by the perpetrator. Any person applying graffiti on public or private property shall have the duty to remove the graffiti within 24 hours after notice by the Township or private owner of the property involved. Such removal shall be done in a manner prescribed by the Chief of Police, the Board of Supervisors or an authorized agent of the Board. Any person applying the graffiti shall be responsible for the removal or for the payment of the removal. Failure to remove the graffiti or pay for the removal by the responsible party shall constitute an additional violation under this chapter. Where graffiti is applied by a minor, the parents or legal guardian shall be responsible for such removal or for the payment for the removal.
Property owner responsibility. If graffiti is not removed by the perpetrator according to Subsection A above, graffiti shall be removed by the owner or occupier of the property. It is unlawful for any person who is the owner or who has primary responsibility for control of property or for repair or maintenance of property in the Township to permit property that is defaced with graffiti to remain defaced for a period of 10 days after service of notice of violation. The notice shall contain the following provisions:
The street address and legal description of the property sufficient for identification of the property;
A statement that the property is a potential graffiti nuisance property with a concise description of the conditions leading to the finding;
A statement that the graffiti must be removed within 10 days after the receipt of the notice and that if the graffiti is not abated within that time the Township will declare the property to be a public nuisance; and
An information sheet identifying any graffiti removal assistance programs available through the Township and private graffiti removal contractors.
Exceptions to property owner responsibility. The removal requirements above shall not apply if the property owner or responsible party can demonstrate that the owner or responsible party lacks the financial ability to remove the defacing graffiti.