[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Haverhill 5-8-2018 by Doc. 56. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to help prevent the spread of graffiti vandalism and to establish a program for the removal of graffiti from public and private property. The City of Haverhill considers graffiti a public nuisance and destructive of the rights and values of property owners as well as the entire community. Unless graffiti is removed from public and private property, the graffiti tends to remain. Neighboring properties then become the target of graffiti, and entire neighborhoods are affected and become less desirable places in which to be, all to the detriment of the City of Haverhill.
The existence of graffiti on public and private property in violation of this chapter is expressly declared to be a public nuisance and, therefore, is subject to removal and abatement provisions specified in this chapter.
It is the duty of the owner of the property in which the graffiti has been applied and any person who may be in possession or who has the right to possess such property at all times to keep the property free and clear of graffiti.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- 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 a graffiti implement, to the extent that the graffiti was not authorized in advance by the owner of the property.
- 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.
It shall be unlawful for any person to apply graffiti to any natural or man-made surface on any City-owned property or, without permission of the owner, on any privately owned property.
It shall be unlawful for any person, with the intent to deface public property, to possess any graffiti implement while upon school property, any public facility, park, playground, swimming pool, recreational facility, or other public building or within 50 feet of an underpass, bridge abutment, storm drain, or similar types of infrastructure unless authorized by the City. The provisions of this section shall not apply to the possession of broad-tipped markers by a minor attending or traveling to or from school at which the minor is enrolled.
It shall be unlawful for any person, other than a parent or legal guardian, to sell, exchange, give, loan, or otherwise furnish, or cause or permit to be exchanged, given, loaned, or otherwise furnished, any aerosol paint container or paint stick to any person under the age of 18 years without the express written consent of the parent or legal guardian of the person.
Any person applying graffiti on public or private property shall have the duty to remove the graffiti within seven days after notice by the Department of Inspectional Service. Such removal shall be done in a manner prescribed by the Department of Inspectional Services. Any person applying graffiti shall be responsible for the removal or for the payment for the removal. Where graffiti is applied by an unemancipated minor, the parents or legal guardian shall also be responsible for such removal or payment for the removal.
If graffiti is not removed by the perpetrator according to the previous subsection, graffiti shall be removed pursuant to the following provisions:
It is unlawful for any person who is the owner or who has primary responsibility for the control of property or for repair and 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. This notice shall contain the following information:
The street address or legal description of the property sufficient for identification of the property.
A statement that the property constitutes a graffiti nuisance.
A statement that the graffiti must be removed within 10 days after receipt of the notice and that if the graffiti is not abated within that time, the City, as prescribed by law, will declare the property to be a public nuisance.
An information sheet identifying any graffiti assistance programs available through the City and private graffiti removal contractors.
The City will establish a graffiti removal fund to remove graffiti from publicly or privately owned property and to assist property owners who have a financial hardship in removing graffiti from their property.
Whenever the City becomes aware or is notified and determines that the graffiti is located on publicly or privately owned property viewable from a public or quasi-public place, the City shall be authorized to use public funds for the removal of the graffiti, but shall not authorize or undertake to provide for the repainting or repair of any more extensive area than that where the graffiti is located, unless the property owner or responsible party agrees to pay the costs of repainting or repairing. The costs of removal may be waived by the Director of Inspectional Services for any property owner or responsible party who can demonstrate a financial hardship.
Prior to entering upon private property 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 in this chapter, 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, only then may the property owner or responsible party be fined according to the provisions specified below.
If an owner, as defined herein, has not requested a hearing within seven days after receiving notice and fails or refuses to remove graffiti within the period provided, the City of Haverhill may, at its sole discretion, enter upon the property and remove the graffiti.
If an owner, as defined herein, has been ordered to remove graffiti following a hearing on the matter and fails or refuses to remove the graffiti within seven days following a hearing, the City may, at its sole discretion, enter upon the property and remove the graffiti.
If the owner, or the owner's authorized agent, fails to comply with an order to remove graffiti issued and the City of Haverhill removes or causes such graffiti to be removed, the removal costs, pursuant to MGL c. 111, § 125, shall constitute a debt due the City, upon the completion of the removal and the rendering of an account therefor to the owner, as defined herein, and shall be recoverable from such owner in an action of contract.
A property owner may appeal a determination by the City of Haverhill that graffiti located on his/her property constitutes a public nuisance. Said appeal shall be governed in accordance with MGL c. 40, § 21D. Following the hearing pursuant to MGL c. 40, § 21D, the City of Haverhill may immediately cause the graffiti to be removed should the hearing officer determine that said graffiti constitutes a public nuisance.
If the owner of said property fails to remove such graffiti in violation of § 160-5 after receiving written notice, such owner shall be subject to a fine of $100. No such fine shall be due should the owner of the property remove said graffiti within 30 days. Fines may be waived by the Director of Inspectional Services for any property owner or responsible party who can demonstrate that they acted in good faith to remove the graffiti or have a financial hardship.
Any person who gives information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person applying graffiti on public or private property in violation of this section, who testified in the prosecution of the violator, shall be eligible, after all appeals have been exhausted, to receive a reward of $100 from the City, except that no employee of the City shall be eligible for such reward.
The provisions of this chapter shall be severable, and if any section, part, or portion hereof shall be held invalid for any purpose by any court of competent jurisdiction, the decision of such court shall not affect or impair any of the remaining provisions.