[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the City of Easton 5-28-2008 by Ord. No. 5094. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Property maintenance — See Ch. 435.
Graffiti is detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the community in that it leads to urban blight; encourages gang activity; is detrimental to property values, business opportunities, and the enjoyment of life; is inconsistent with the City's property maintenance goals, aesthetic standards and clean and safe theme; and results in additional graffiti and in other properties becoming the target of graffiti unless it is quickly removed from public and private property. Graffiti results in visual pollution and is a public nuisance. Graffiti must be abated as quickly as possible to avoid detrimental impacts on the City and its residents and to prevent the further spread of graffiti.
It is the purpose of this chapter to:
Prohibit and restrict the possession of graffiti implements;
Prohibit the application of graffiti on any public or private property;
Require prompt removal of graffiti on all public or private property; and
Mandate the Easton Police Department full jurisdiction over the policies within the Easton Graffiti Ordinance.
It is the intention of the City of Easton through the adoption of this chapter to provide additional enforcement tools to protect public and private property from acts of graffiti vandalism and defacement. The chapter is not intended to conflict with any existing anti-graffiti state law.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The removal, painting over or otherwise obscuring of graffiti from view.
- AEROSOL CONTAINER
- Any aerosol-based container which is capable of spraying paint, ink, dye or similar substance and leaving a visible mark on any natural or man-made surface.
- ETCHING MATERIALS
- Any etching tool, chemical, paste or similar material which is capable of being used to etch glass.
- Any unauthorized inscription, word, figure, mark, adhesive label, patch or design that is written, marked, etched, scratched, drawn, painted or engraved on or otherwise affixed to any surface of public or private property, including but not limited to buildings, structures or places.
- GRAFFITI IMPLEMENT
- Etching material or any aerosol container which contains paint, ink, dye or any similar substance and which is capable of resulting in the placement of graffiti upon any surface or substance, including but not limited to glass, metal, concrete, wood and plastic.
- The owner of record of the property as set forth in the tax records.
- A legal or equitable interest in real or personal property, including but not limited to the interest of a tenant or lessee.
- RESPONSIBLE PARTY
- An owner or an entity or person acting as an agent for owner by agreement who has authority over the property or is responsible for the property's maintenance or management; irrespective of any arrangement to the contrary with any other party, each owner shall always be a responsible party for the purpose of this chapter. There may be more than one responsible party for a particular property.
It is unlawful for any person to apply or endeavor to apply graffiti on public or privately owned buildings, permanent structures or places located on public or privately owned property within the City. It is unlawful for any person to solicit or command another person to apply graffiti. It is unlawful for any person to aid or abet or agree to aid or abet another person to plan to apply or apply graffiti. A violation of this provision shall constitute a summary offense.
It is unlawful for any person to have in his or her possession for the purpose of defacing property any graffiti implement while in any public park, school grounds, playground, swimming pool, public recreational facility, any public right-of-way, or other public grounds in the City or while on private property not open to the public without the owner's or agency's permission. A violation of this provision shall constitute a summary offense.
It is unlawful for any owner or responsible party to maintain, permit or allow graffiti to remain on any property or item within the City that is visible to any person of normal eyesight utilizing any public road, alley, sidewalk or other facility open to the general public. Any owner or responsible party found in violation of Subsection C shall be required to remove or cause to be removed the graffiti from the surface on which it was placed. Inasmuch as it is often not possible to determine the identity of the person who applied the graffiti, it shall be the duty of the owner or responsible party of the location on which the graffiti was applied to remove the graffiti within 10 days, weather conditions permitting, after receiving notice from the City. The notice shall include references where the property owner or responsible party may seek assistance in the abatement of the graffiti. If after 10 days of notification of the violations no attempt has been made to remove the graffiti from the premises, the City may undertake any necessary cleanup. The City of Easton will offer to remove said graffiti from the premises at no cost to the property owner. If a property owner does not allow the removal of the graffiti, the City may require said owner to pay for costs and expenses. Any cost or expense incurred by the City for removal and cleanup of private property may be billed to the owner within 14 days of removal. Upon failure to repay the City in a timely fashion, the City may file a municipal lien against the property. Failure to remove the graffiti within the 10 days shall constitute a summary offense.
Final approval concerning fine or reward will be made solely by the Chief of Police.
Graffiti shall be removed or completely covered in a manner that renders it inconspicuous. When graffiti is painted out, the color used to paint it out shall match the original color of the surface, or the surface shall be completely repainted with a new color that is aesthetically compatible with existing colors and architecture. The removal shall not leave shadows and shall not follow the pattern of the graffiti such that letters or similar shapes remain apparent on the surface after graffiti markings have been removed. If the area is heavily covered with graffiti the entire surface shall be repainted.
The City may offer a reward, not to exceed $250, for information leading to the identification, apprehension and conviction of any person who willfully damages or destroys any public or private property by the use of graffiti. The actual amount awarded (not to exceed $250) shall be determined by the Chief of Police. Upon conviction, the City may seek reimbursement of any reward as part of a claim for restitution against the offender or the parents or legal guardian of any unemancipated minor. In the event of multiple contributors of information, the reward amount shall be divided by the City in the manner it shall deem appropriate. Claims for rewards shall be filed with the Chief of Police or his/her designee. No claim for reward shall be allowed unless the City investigates and verifies the accuracy of the claim and determines that the requirements of this section have been satisfied.