Amarillo, TX – The Amarillo City Commission Tuesday approved, on second reading, an ordinance that declares graffiti a public nuisance. As a result, property owners constantly plagued by graffiti can now get help from the City in their cleanup efforts.
The ordinance defines graffiti as markings – including inscriptions, slogans, drawings, stenciling, symbols, letters, numerals, and paintings – made on a person’s property without permission – with paint, an indelible marker, or an etching or engraving device. Although graffiti is a criminal offense under state law (Texas Penal Code, sec. 28.08), the City felt additional measures were needed locally to curtail this activity.
If your property has been the target of graffiti, the City is here to help. This new ordinance puts in place a process where property owners can authorize the City of Amarillo onto their property for graffiti removal purposes.
“Our research has shown that the faster you remove that graffiti, the quicker you discourage the tagger,” says Marcus Norris, city attorney. “I would also like to add that this ordinance is not designed to punish property owners. Rather, it is intended to encourage property owners to take action when their property has been defaced.”
When graffiti is found to exist, the City’s Building Official will offer to remove the graffiti from the owner’s property free of charge, to the extent required by state law. The owner may accept the offer by executing a release with the Building Official within five (5) business days from the date of the offer.
If the property owner refuses, the free-cleanup offer is rescinded. That is followed by a 15-day period in which the property owner is required to clear away the graffiti. If the property owner chooses to not clean up the graffiti, the City could remove the graffiti and bill for expenses incurred, including:
- $75 administrative fee for administering the abatement process and inspections
- Actual costs incurred by City for giving required notices
- $75 for a hearing contesting the finding of a graffiti nuisance
- Actual costs incurred by City to enter remove or otherwise abate the graffiti, at the rate of $50 per hour for labor plus equipment and supply costs
Amarillo’s anti-graffiti ordinance also makes it illegal for a minor to possess aerosol paint of any sort, an engraving device or an indelible marker. Parents or guardians of a child under the age of 17 could be held responsible for their children’s actions if they violate anti-graffiti laws. Of course, there are exceptions which include times when the child in possession of the materials is:
- accompanied or supervised by a parent, guardian or teacher, in connection with a “bona fide” school project, or by a job supervisor
- on property where the child resides
- carrying the materials in the “immediate course and scope” of an event supervised by a governmental entity, school, church or youth organization
- transporting the materials for a lawful purpose on behalf of, or at the direction of, a parent or guardian
However, if a parent or guardian of a child “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence” permits the child to create graffiti on another person’s property without permission, the parent or guardian could face a $500 fine.
The anti-graffiti ordinance will become effective May 18, a day before a city-wide cleanup campaign dubbed “Take Back the Wall” gets underway. The City has already received at least 60 waivers from property owners asking for assistance in cleaning up graffiti. For more information on Amarillo’s anti-graffiti efforts, visit www.TakeBackTheWall.com or to report graffiti, call Building Safety at 378-3041.