At last night’s City Council meeting, members voted unanimously to approve a new anti-graffiti ordinance, which requires property owners to remove graffiti from their property within days of the vandalism but affords them a less strict timeframe.
The ordinance will take effect in 90 days.
Property owners now have seven days to remove graffiti from their property if the city notice was given directly to them or nine days if the notice was mailed. If property owners fail to remove the graffiti within the given timeframe, the city will remove the graffiti and the associated costs will be passed on to the property owner.
The new ordinance will shift the focus of current city graffiti regulations, which target the person who applies the graffiti, not the property owner, according to City Council member Christopher Taylor (D-Ward 3), one of the sponsors of the proposal.
Some Ann Arbor property owners wanted to amend the current city graffiti regulations because they felt that other property owners didn’t care enough to remove graffiti from their property.
According to Newcombe Clark, owner of Bluestone Realty Advisors and president of Main Street Area Association, said that once vandals see graffiti on a property in a certain area, they are more likely to deface other properties in that area.
“If someone sees graffiti, they assume that there aren’t enough eyes on it so it somewhat grows from there,” he said.
The purpose of the ordinance was not to penalize people who are victims of graffiti, Clark said, but to stop the occurrence of vandalism in the city.
In fact, the new ordinance was scaled back from its original draft presented to City Council in December, which included a fine of up to $500 for property owners who didn’t remove graffiti within two to four days of discovering the vandalism.
Business owners felt the fine was too harsh and that property owners were targeted too heavily.
“The revision is much better in how it relates the original intent of the ordinance to people,” Clark said.
At the meeting, concerns were raised by Ann Arbor residents that the ordinance prioritized graffiti removal in the city, which isn’t worth fighting with taxpayer money.
But City Council members said that they remained confident that the ordinance would be successful in decreasing graffiti within the city and proud of the collaboration of many different city organizations.
Council member Margie Teall (D-Ward 4), the senior sponsor of the proposal, said that the 90-day window before the ordinance takes effect will be used to inform property owners on how to remove the graffiti. Suggestions for removal included “Elephant Snot” — a graffiti removal treatment.
The progress of the ordinance will be reviewed by City Council at a meeting scheduled six months from now.