Monday, July 29, 2013

Proposed Graffiti Ordinance Getting Bad Rap

Everyone hates unwanted graffiti.

The tagging of a vandal is an unwelcome, ugly, and sometimes tragic form of petty crime that can really incense a property owner and destroy a beautiful community one spray paint can at a time. 

Tonight, the City-County Council will take up a proposal to try to clean up the community and the graffiti within it.  Unfortunately, the media spin on this proposal has taken the debate down a different path, and it's time to set the record straight.

Bear with me...

Let's say some fine individual decides to vandalize the side of my home by spray painting something unwelcome on there.  As a property owner, I currently have few recourses.  I have to either leave the graffiti or pull money out of my pocket to fix it.  I’m not going to let it sit on the side of my home because I’m a responsible home owner. There are some things you just have to take care of.  I would call someone, get an estimate, and get the thing off the side of my home pronto.  Most people would.

The ordinance proposed by the City-County Council would not have any effect on me.  As long as I have this graffiti fixed within 30 days of receiving a notice from the city (which would also, by ordinance include information on how I can get assistance from the city to remove the graffiti via an abatement program), I would not see any action under the proposed ordinance.

On the other hand, let's say I own some rental property in another neighborhood.  The same thing happens.  Someone tags the home with graffiti.  Instead of fixing the problem, I let it sit.  It sits for weeks and months.  Pretty soon, the neighborhood decides that this is the house to put graffiti on.  Before long, my little problem went big.

It's these types of situation that this proposed ordinance is trying to fix.  This ordinance is targeting folks that are not good neighbors. The kinds of folks who seem not to care that someone tagged their building, out building, or property. These are the folks that this ordinance wants to hit in their pocketbooks.

It’s my understanding that many business owners and property owners are planning on showing up at the City-County Council meeting tonight. It’s certainly their right to do this, but I wonder if they have actually read the ordinance. 

To be honest, when I heard about the proposal, my knee-jerk reaction was to fire off a couple of nasty e-mails to the sponsors of the ordinance, too. Once I was walked through what is actually in the proposal, I did a 180. I believe this is not only good public policy, but the kind of common sense and bi-partisan idea we need to improve our community. This is a step in taking back our streets and neighborhoods from the vandals that want to deface them.  

If you want to read the proposal for yourself, it is here.  

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