Many buildings that line the blocks of State Street feature cryptic spray painted messages and designs, that may seem playful and humorous to some, but for many Ann Arbor business owners and city officials the recent increase in graffiti is a public nuisance that needs remedying.
To combat the recent rise in the graffiti, business owners worked with City Council to draft a new anti-graffiti ordinance, which passed at its first reading on Dec. 15. But after further discussion with local business owners, council members decided that a revised version of the ordinance was needed. That amended version will be considered at tonight’s meeting.
If approved, the ordinance will take effect 90 days after tonight’s meeting.
After the approval of the proposal’s first reading in December, sponsors of the new ordinance met with Ann Arbor business owners, the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Development Authority and city staff to consider revisions to the proposed ordinance.
During that meeting, they decided that the fine for having graffiti on your property was too steep.
The revised ordinance also extends the period of time that property owners have to remove graffiti. Now business owners would have seven to nine days to remove any graffiti on their property as opposed to the two-to-four day limit after the city issues a notice under the old ordinance.
Failure to clean up the graffiti would result in the issuance of a ticket of up to $500 under the original ordinance.
Another change in the new version of the ordinance is that if property owners fail to remove the graffiti in the given timeframe, the city will remove the graffiti itself and the cost of removal will be passed on to the property owner.
City Council Member Christopher Taylor said the proposal would shift the focus of the current city regulations regarding graffiti, which are now targeted exclusively at people who apply graffiti, not property owners.
Taylor also said businesses expressed concerns that some property owners don’t care enough to remove graffiti from their property.