[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Springfield as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted as Title 8, Ch. 8.20, § 8.20.080, of the 1986 Code]
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- INDELIBLE MARKER
- Any felt-tip marker, china marker or similar device that is not water soluble and which has a flat or angled writing surface 1/2 inch or greater.
- Any person under the age of 18 years.
- Any retail establishment.
No person shall sell or offer for sale, transfer or offer to transfer any spray paint container or indelible marker unless such spray paint container or indelible marker is held for sale or transfer in an enclosed device which is constructed to prevent removal of the merchandise except by authorized attendants or is stored, out of sight, in such a way as to prevent free access to the merchandise by the public.
No person shall sell or otherwise transfer any spray paint container or indelible marker to a minor, unless the minor is accompanied by his or her parent or legal guardian at the time of the purchase or transfer.
No minor shall, at the time of purchase of items specified in Subsection B of this subsection, knowingly furnish fraudulent evidence of maturity, including, but not limited to, a motor vehicle operator's license, a registration certificate issued under the Federal Selective Service Act, an identification card issued to a member of the Armed Forces, or any document issued by a federal, state, county or municipal government.
Any person who violates the provisions of this article shall be subject to a fine or penalty of not less than $50 nor more than $300 for each offense.
[Adopted 11-14-2000; amended in its entirety 6-20-2006 (Title 8, Ch. 8.32, of the 1986 Code)]
The City Council of the City of Springfield has determined that there has been an increase in vandalism in the City of Springfield. This article has been enacted through the efforts of an ad hoc subcommittee consisting of members of the Springfield School Committee and the City Council. In fiscal year 2007, it has been estimated that the City will expend $800,000 in vandalism and graffiti repair.
Vandalism and graffiti are public nuisances which interfere with the rights and values of property owners and the entire community. This article is intended to provide enforcement tools to protect public and private property from acts of vandalism and graffiti; to establish a plan to remove graffiti; to seek reimbursement of all vandalism and graffiti repair costs incurred by the City; and to impose penalties upon violators. Unless action is taken, other properties within the City become targets of vandalism and graffiti. As a result, entire neighborhoods can become less desirable places in which to reside, attend school, work, and visit, all to the detriment of the City. The City Council does not intend for this article to conflict with any existing vandalism and anti-graffiti state laws or as amended.
For the purpose of this article, the following words, terms, and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
- AEROSOL PAINT CONTAINER
- Any aerosol container that is adapted or made for the purpose of applying spray paint or other substances capable of defacing property.
- BROAD-TIPPED MARKER
- Any felt-tip indelible marker or similar implement with a flat or angled writing surface that, at it broadest width, is greater than 1/4 of an inch, containing ink or other pigmented liquid that is not water soluble.
- ETCHING EQUIPMENT
- Any tool, device or substance that can be used to make permanent marks on any natural or man-made surface.
- Any 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 Code Enforcement Commissioner. As used herein, graffiti is considered a form of vandalism.
- GRAFFITI IMPLEMENT
- An aerosol paint container, a broad-tipped marker, gum label, paint stick or graffiti stick, etching equipment, brush or any other device capable of scarring or leaving a visible mark on any natural or man-made surface.
- PAINT STICK or GRAFFITI STICK
- Any device containing a solid form of paint, chalk, wax, epoxy, or other similar substance capable of being applied to a surface by pressure and leaving a mark hereon.
- Any individual, association, private corporation, personal trustee, assignee, or any other legal entity, partnership, cooperative representative, receiver, trustee, assignee, or any other legal entity.
- Any property, real or personal, located within the City of Springfield or any City-owned property, real or personal, regardless of whether such property is located within the City of Springfield.
- To intentionally, willfully and maliciously or wantonly paint, mark, scratch, etch or otherwise mark, injure, mar, deface or destroy the real or personal property of another. (See MGL c. 266, §§ 126A and 127.) As used herein graffiti is considered a form of vandalism.
It shall be unlawful for any person to commit acts of vandalism or graffiti to property.
Display and storage.
Every person who owns, conducts, operates, or manages a retail commercial establishment selling aerosol paint containers, paint sticks, or broad-tipped markers shall store the containers, sticks or markers in an area continuously observable, through direct visual observation or surveillance equipment, by employees of the retail establishment during the regular course of business.
In the event that a commercial retail establishment is unable to store the aerosol paint containers, paint sticks, or broad-tipped markers in an area as provided above, the establishment shall store the containers, sticks and markers in an area not accessible to the public in the regular course of business without employee assistance.
Signage required. Every person who operates a retail establishment selling graffiti implements shall:
Place an interior sign in clear public view stating: "Graffiti Is Against The Law. Any person who defaces real or personal property with paint or any other liquid device shall be punishable by a fine of $300." Such sign(s) shall be at least 48 square inches and shall be posted in public view in the store at a height of not less then four feet or greater than nine feet from the floor.
Place a sign in clear public view stating "Selling spray paint, paint sticks, or broad-tipped markers to persons under 18 years of age is against the law and punishable by a fine of $300."
The existence of graffiti on public or private property in violation of this article is expressly declared to be a public nuisance and, therefore, is subject to the removal and abatement provisions specified in this article.
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.
Any person applying graffiti shall be responsible for the removal thereof or for the payment of the costs of removal. Failure of any person to remove graffiti or pay for the removal shall constitute an additional violation of this article. Where graffiti is applied by an unemancipated minor, the parents with legal custody or the legal guardian shall also be responsible for such removal or for the payment for the costs of removal. Such removal shall be done in a manner prescribed by the Director of the Department of Public Works, the Commissioner of Code Enforcement, or any additional City department head, as authorized by the City Council.
Any removal of graffiti from a historical property shall be reviewed by the Springfield Historical Commission in accordance with its rules and regulations.
If graffiti is not removed by the violator according to this article, graffiti shall be removed pursuant to the following provisions:
Property owner responsibility. 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 City to permit property that is defaced with graffiti to remain defaced for a period of 10 days after service by first class mail of notice of the defacement. The notice shall contain the following information:
The street address and a 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 shall be removed within 10 days after the receipt of the notice and that if the owner does not abate the graffiti within that time the City will declare the property to be a public nuisance, subject to the abatement procedures in § 201-11;
An information sheet identifying any graffiti removal assistance programs available through the City and private graffiti removal contractors; and
An extension of time to remove graffiti may be granted by the City.
Right of City to remove.
Use of trust funds. Whenever the City becomes aware of or is notified and determines that graffiti is located on publicly or privately owned property viewable from a public or quasi-public place, the City shall be authorized to use trust funds for the removal of the graffiti, but shall not authorize or undertake to provide for the painting or repair of any more extensive an area than that where the graffiti is located, unless the Mayor or his/her designee determines in writing that a more extensive area is required to be repainted or repaired in order to avoid an aesthetic disfigurement to the neighborhood or community, or unless the property owner or responsible party agrees to pay for the costs of repainting or repairing the more extensive area.
Right of entry on private property. Prior to entering upon private property or property owned by a public entity other than the City for the purpose of graffiti removal, the City shall attempt to secure the consent of the property owner or responsible party and a release of the City from liability for property damage or personal injury. If the property owner or responsible party fails to remove the offending graffiti within the time specified by this article, or if the City has requested consent to remove or paint over the offending graffiti and the property owner or responsible party has refused consent for entry on terms acceptable to the City and consistent with the terms of this section, the City may commence a civil action in the Housing Court for right of entry upon the property and to recover to recover administrative and abatement costs for the graffiti removal.
Lien. As to such property where the responsible party is the property owner, if all or any portion of the assessed eradication charges remain unpaid after 30 days, pursuant to the authority created by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 139 (Common Nuisances Statute), the portion thereof that remains unpaid shall constitute a lien on the property that was the subject of the eradication effort. The City shall request an order for a lien from the Housing Court and thereafter shall cause a certified copy of the lien to be recorded with the Registry of Deeds where the land is located.
Common utility colors and paint type. Any gas, electric, telephone, water, sewer, cable, telephone and other utility operating in the City shall paint its above-surface metal fixtures with a uniform paint type and color that meets the universal standards of the industries. Said painting may be done on the utility's regular maintenance scheduled if said schedule is within one year of this article.
Condition encroachment permits. All encroachment permits issued by the City shall, among such other things, be conditioned on:
The permittee's application to the encroaching object of an anti-graffiti material of a type and nature that is acceptable to the Commissioner of Code Enforcement or his designee;
The permittee's immediate removal of any graffiti;
The City's right to remove graffiti or to paint the encroaching object; or
The permittee's providing the City with sufficient matching paint and/or anti-graffiti material on demand for use in the painting of the encroaching objects containing graffiti.
The City Council hereby creates the "City of Springfield Anti-Vandalism and Graffiti Trust Fund." Penalties assessed against violators of this article shall be placed in the fund, along with any monetary donations received from persons wishing to contribute to the fund. The Commissioner of Code Enforcement shall direct the expenditures of monies in the fund. Such expenditures shall be limited to the payment of the cost of graffiti removal and the costs of administering this article and such other public purposes as may be approved by an order of the City Council. This provision is not intended to conflict with the statutory authority of the Springfield Financial Control Board created under Chapter 169 of the Acts of 2004 and the provisions thereunder.
Indemnification. Any person who commits an act of vandalism, including graffiti, in violation of this article shall be responsible to indemnify the property owner for all damages and costs incurred as direct result of such vandalism or graffiti.
Noncriminal disposition. Any person who commits an act of vandalism, including graffiti, in violation of this article shall be punished by a fine of $300. All such fines shall be payable to the City of Springfield. The Police Department and the Code Enforcement Department shall enforce the provisions of this article.
Liability of parents and legal guardians. In the case of an unemancipated minor, parents with legal custody ("parent") or a legal guardian shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for payment of damages and costs to the property owner and fines to the City. This provision is not intended to conflict with MGL c. 231, § 85G (Parents Liability for Willful Act of Minor Children).
Failure to pay indemnification or penalties. If the violator of this article, or if the violator is an unemancipated minor the parent or legal guardian, fails to make payment to the City, the City is authorized to commence a civil action against such violator or parent or legal guardian seeking payment of the fine(s), indemnification for damage to City-owned property, and administrative costs. If necessary, the City may seek a lien against the personal and/or real property of the violator or parent or legal guardian to secure payment of the fine, restitution, and administrative costs.
Springfield public school students. If at the time of the vandalism occurrence the violator is a student with the Springfield public schools, he or she may be subject to the Springfield public schools' Code of Student Conduct, as amended, which is hereby incorporated by reference.
Criminal disposition; restitution. In addition to any punishment specified in this chapter or the Massachusetts General Laws, a court may 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 restitution. It is acknowledged that upon an application and finding of indigence, the court may decline to order fines against the minor, parents or guardian.
Forfeiture of personal property. All personal property, including, but not limited to, automobiles, motorcycles and bicycles, used or intended to be used in violating this article shall be forfeitable to the City by the court. In forfeiting such personal property, the court shall follow the procedures outlined in Massachusetts General Laws concerning the forfeitures of personal property. In any forfeiture proceeding under this section, the court shall not order forfeiture unless it finds that the forfeiture is commensurate with the severity of the violation to the extent required by the laws of Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the United States Constitution.
Community service. In lieu of, or as part of, the penalties specified in this section, a minor or adult may be required to perform community service as described by the court based on the following minimum requirements:
The violator shall perform at least 30 hours of community service.
At least one parent or guardian of the minor shall be in attendance a minimum of 50% of the period of assigned community service.
The entire period of community service shall be performed under the supervision of a community service provider approved by the Chief of Police or the Probation Department of the court.
Reasonable effort shall be made to assign the violator to a type of community service that is reasonably expected to have the most rehabilitative effect on the violator, including community service that involves the performance of vandalism repair or graffiti removal.
Any minor determined to be a ward of the court under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a result of committing an offense in the City shall be required, at the City's option, to perform community service, including vandalism repair or graffiti removal service of not less than 15 hours or more than 80 hours.
Civil responsibility for wrongful sale, display or storage. Any person who sells, displays or stores, or permits the sale, display or storage of any graffiti implement in violation of the provisions of this article shall be personally liable for all costs, including attorney's fees and court costs, incurred by any party in connection with the removal of graffiti, the repair of any property containing graffiti, or such party's prosecution of a civil claim for reimbursement or damages resulting from such graffiti removal or property repair, arising from the use by any person of such wrongfully sold, displayed or stored graffiti implements in violation of the provisions of this article, provided that such liability shall not exceed $1,500.
Collection of indemnification payments, fines and costs for damage to City property. The Director of Parks and Buildings or his/her designee shall calculate the damages, costs and fines, and he or she shall send itemized demand letters to the responsible party and/or to the appropriate district attorney's office handling the criminal restitution claim. The responsible party shall receive no less than two itemized demand letters. The first itemized demand letter shall require full payment of all damages, costs and fines within 30 days. The second demand letter shall require immediate payment. If full payment has not been received after the demand letters have been sent by the Director of Parks and Buildings or his or her designee, the collection matter shall be referred to the City Solicitor of the Springfield Law Department. The City Solicitor or his or her designee shall make all reasonable and practical efforts to collect all outstanding damages, costs and fines. From time to time, the City Council may request updates on collection efforts from the Director of Parks and Buildings and/or the Law Department.