Council Puts More Thought into Graffiti Ordinance

Council discussed the ordinance that would crack down on business owners who drag their feet on cleaning up graffiti and decided to leave it on the table until a first draft is presented

Council members decided to put a little more work into a graffiti ordinance that aims to punish business owners who dawdle on cleaning graffiti off their buildings.

North Canton City Council after expressing concerns with the level of punishment for the business owners. As written, it was a first-degree misdemeanor, while the act of vandalism or criminal damaging is often a less severe second-degree misdemeanor.

"I think my primary problem with it was the criminalizing of the victim," said Interim Law Director Roy Batista, who has worked on the ordinance alongside Councilman-at-large Dan Griffith.

At Monday night's Council meeting, Batista said Council should consider making the punishment a civil offense and suggested that a city official someone examine the graffiti and determine a reasonable period of time in which it should be removed.

 about whether the time frame should be two weeks or a month. By the end of the night Monday, Council hadn't determined what time frame was fair. They said in each case city officials should consider the size of the graffiti, whether it's profane (profane graffiti would need to be removed much more quickly), what the weather is like (winter months may pose problems with graffiti removal), and whether the property owner is available (he or she may may not live in the area).

For Ward 1 Councilman Doug Foltz, prompt graffiti removal comes down to having pride in your building. He said he's not eager to punish business owners, but something has to be done on the city's end.

"I don't want to throw stones at these businesses, but I think they have a responsibility to get something done," Foltz said.

"I don't want to get in the business of solving problems I think the business owners should take care of, obviously, I'm sympathetic that someone vandalized their property, but I think we have to find median ground where they want to get it off, too because it's bad for their business, it's an eyesore to the community."

Council members plan to test a handful of graffiti removers on an East Maple Street building Saturday and, if they're satisfied with one, will consider buying the remover and selling it at cost to business owners in hopes they are more prompt in cleaning off their own graffiti.

But for now, they've left the ordinance on the table and Griffith said he plans to work again with Batista on crafting a first draft using council members' feedback.

Chuck Osborne August 21, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Graffiti is graffiti! It all should be removed. Why the proposed legislation was initially put forth as a criminal offense for a property owner who fails to remove the graffiti is beyond me. I can only presume that the city’s previous law director drafted the earlier graffiti removal legislation. Why didn’t council members zero in on the criminality of the earlier proposal when previously discussed and rework the proposal to simply fine any property owner who fails to remove the unsightly graffiti? There are two attorneys who are members of city council. At the very least, either one of them should have zeroed in on the criminality of the first proposal and suggested a civil penalty. Interim Law Director Batista was spot on with his recommendation.
Vic Kirkpatrick August 22, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Instead of making it a crime, maybe the city could enforce it like a zoning issue is handled in other places. For example, in other places when people don't cut their grass after being sent a notice, the city sends a crew out to do it. Then the city bills them for the work. If the property owner doesn't pay the bill, its added to their property tax. That way people keep things clean or they pay for someone else to do it, but no one ends up with a criminal charge.
Julius August 23, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Since uncleaned graffiti tends to attract even more graffiti, it sure is a good idea to remove it quickly. And when property owners don't, they harm neighboring properties. How would you like to bring a Realtor over to set an asking price for your home or business while graffiti is on neighboring buildings? If I missed something, hit me at www.DefacingAmerica.com Thanks.


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