• August 22, 2014

Killeen set to clear up graffiti law

Revisions to reflect state rules for removal

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Posted: Sunday, May 26, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 8:37 am, Tue May 28, 2013.

A state law passed in 2009 requires cities to remove graffiti from private property rather than forcing property owners to do it.

Last week, the Killeen City Council discussed amending its current graffiti removal law to bring it into compliance.

Applying graffiti to public or private property is illegal and can be punishable as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Removal of the graffiti is a different challenge because the property owners in some cases are victims and, in other cases, create a different problem by refusing to remove the blight from public view.

“You may be thinking, why on earth are we going to offer to clean up someone’s graffiti before we make them clean it up themselves,” said Kathryn Davis, Killeen city attorney. “Well, because the state law says so.”

The city currently budgets $2,500 each year for supplies; however, that number could increase, Killeen spokeswoman Hilary Shine said.

A common method of removing graffiti is painting over it.

“This is basically an unfunded mandate,” Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin said. “We don’t have much choice.”

Shine said the city could not estimate an increase in cost for the proposed changes to its graffiti removal procedure.

If the changes are approved, the city soon would have a clear

procedure in place, speeding up the process for removing graffiti.

“The changes would clarify the procedure for how the city would go about notifying property owners about graffiti removal,” Shine said. “It will establish what steps can be taken next.”

Shine said the city has not issued fines to property owners for graffiti removal.

According to city documents, the proposed change also allows the city to put a lien against the property for expenses associated with removing the paint if property owners do not cooperate with the city.

Under the proposed change, the property owner will have seven days to accept the city’s written offer.

After seven days, the owner will have 15 days to remove the graffiti before city staff can enter the property and remove the graffiti.

Graffiti placed on transportation infrastructure, such as bridges, is exempt from the removal because of safety hazards, according to the law.

Graffiti applied with the permission of the owner also is allowed.

Shine said graffiti is considered a nuisance and the changes will align the language of city codes with the city’s policies for abating other nuisances.

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Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • Alvin posted at 11:11 am on Sun, May 26, 2013.

    Alvin Posts: 169


    The State law was introduced in 2009. The city, just now, is ready to review the statute. My question is,'Why did it take so long to amend it's graffiti' law and bring it into compliance? Another point, 'why is it punishable as a misdemeanor or a felony'? Which is it? As to the statement of 'Removal of graffiti is a different challenge because the property owners in some cases are victims and, in other cases, create a different problem by refusing to remove the blight from public view'. Further down in the article states with the owners permission, graffiti is permissible.

    Further down the article it states, 'If the changes are approved, the city soon would have a clear
    procedure in place, speeding up the process for removing graffiti.
    “The changes would clarify the procedure for how the city would go about notifying property owners about graffiti removal,” Shine said. “It will establish what steps can be taken next.”
    Shine said the city has not issued fines to property owners for graffiti removal.
    According to city documents, the proposed change also allows the city to put a lien against the property for expenses associated with removing the paint if property owners do not cooperate with the city.
    Under the proposed change, the property owner will have seven days to accept the city’s written offer.
    After seven days, the owner will have 15 days to remove the graffiti before city staff can enter the property and remove the graffiti.

    As I read this, 'All graffiti is chargeable to the owner', period, but it goes on to say 'Graffiti with the owners permission is acceptable'. It goes on to say the city will give the owner, of non-acceptable graffiti, seven days to accept the city's written offer or the city will remove the graffiti at the owners expense. Now that's a 'have your cake and eat it too'. Who will define 'what's acceptable and what is not'? What is the body to say 'what's acceptable and what's not acceptable, the city manager'?

    But the profound question arises, 'What is considered graffiti'? As it has been said, 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. What statute defines 'graffiti'?

    As to the question of whether or not 'is it a misdemeanor or a felony'? In one instance it states that it is a misdemeanor or felony and further down the article it states categorically that it a misdemeanor. As to the question of 'who is responsible', that I believe the city is responsible and the city should go after the person or persons responsible. Why do you want a person or persons 'through no fault of their own' expect the owner or owners to pay for what is to be considered nuisance graffiti? Seek the graffiti culprit and make them pay.

    As to the question, 'You may be thinking, why on earth are we going to offer to clean up someone's graffiti before we make them clean it up themselves, to which Katheryn Davis, Killeen city attorney said – Well because the state law says so'. So I ask again, 'Why did it take so long', 2009?

    As to the 'common method of removal – paint, I hope the paint is one that lends itself to removal without destruction.

    Dan Corbin said 'this is basically an unfunded mandate – we don't have much choice'.

    A little further down in the article states, 'Hillory Shine, If the changes are approved, the city would have a clear procedure in place, speeding up the process for graffiti removal. The changes would clarify the procedure for how the city would go about notifying property owners about graffiti removal, it will establish what can be taken next'. Excuse me but didn't it say 'the city is responsible'? It only has to be determined if the graffiti is caused by the owner or if the owner is a victim.

    “The changes would clarify the procedure for how the city would go about notifying property owners about graffiti removal,” Shine said. “It will establish what steps can be taken next.”
    Shine said the city has not issued fines to property owners for graffiti removal.
    According to city documents, the proposed change also allows the city to put a lien against the property for expenses associated with removing the paint if property owners do not cooperate with the city.
    Under the proposed change, the property owner will have seven days to accept the city’s written offer.
    After seven days, the owner will have 15 days to remove the graffiti before city staff can enter the property and remove the graffiti.
    Graffiti placed on transportation infrastructure, such as bridges, is exempt from the removal because of safety hazards, according to the law.
    Graffiti applied with the permission of the owner also is allowed.
    Shine said graffiti is considered a nuisance and the changes will align the language of city codes with the city’s policies for abating other nuisances.