COPPERAS COVE — A new city ordinance should help clean up unwanted graffiti and prevent future tagging.
Deputy Police Chief Eddie Wilson said graffiti isn’t an epidemic in the city but the new ordinance should help officials get in front of any possible problems.
In the past week, only two graffiti incidents were reported to police, officials said. One incident involved painting a building while the other involved a vehicle.
The ordinance makes it illegal for people to carry graffiti tools and offers a city abatement option for those who don’t remove the defacement.
“This would allow an officer to file charges on those carrying graffiti equipment,” Wilson said at a Copperas Cove City Council meeting in May.
Graffiti tools include paint, aerosol paint containers, any type of indelible marker, a paint stick or engraving device for glass, metal, concrete, brick or wood, stated the ordinance. Paint sticks include chalk, wax epoxy and any other similar object that can leave visible marks.
According to the ordinance, those implements can’t be carried on public or private property. The ordinance does, however, state people can use the graffiti implements if they are acting on behalf of the property owner.
If graffiti is placed on a building, the city will mail the owner a letter, which includes an offer of free paint to cover it, stated the ordinance.
If an owner fails to respond to the city and doesn’t remove the graffiti within 10 days of the mailed notice, city staff can remove the graffiti 15 days after a written notice is delivered, according to the ordinance.
The city offers paint it has on hand, so the colors may not be a perfect match, Wilson said. “So that may be why they choose not to go with the city.”
The ordinance also allows the city to place a lien on a property if the city removes graffiti for the owner.
Wilson said most of the new ordinance is consistent with state law, but now gives the city a way to force property owners to remove graffiti or permission to clean it for them.
“We had some buildings that had graffiti on them for years,” he said.