Ordinance No. 823 – Relating to the Prevention, Prohibition, and Removal of Graffiti

This proposed ordinance was reviewed with the Council in draft form at your March 25 meeting. Procedural and form modifications have been made in response to the from the City Attorney and area district attorneys. None of the modifications impact the substantive provisions of the ordinance.

Because of the urgent need to impact the effects of graffiti on the Santa Fe Springs community, it is recommended that this ordinance be adopted on any urgency basis and in so doing making it effective immediately. Public input and review was provided by the placement of this item on the March 25 agenda.

The significant provisions of this ordinance are:

1. Declares graffiti a public nuisance and in so doing gives the City the authority under its police powers to become more significantly involved in regulation and enforcement.

2. Broadens the definition of a graffiti implement to include felt tip markers, greater than 1/8th inch in width, or a paint stick or etching tool capable of scarring glass, metal, concrete or wood.

3. Makes it illegal for adults and juveniles to possess graffiti implements in or near a variety of public locations, including city and school facilities and public infrastructures.

4. Requires commercial sellers of graffiti implements to store them in such a way as to make them not accessible without employee assistance.

5. Sets forth the City’s policy on the removal of graffiti. Additionally, it gives the person applying the graffiti 24 hours to remove the graffiti, upon notice, or suffer restitution consequences. This would have to be done in a manner approved by the City.



WHEREAS, there is a current and immediate threat to the public health, safety, and welfare posed by the onslaught of graffiti which the City is experiencing; and

WHEREAS, said onslaught of graffiti is causing a blighted condition throughout the City and threatens to undermine community property values; and

WHEREAS, immediate action is required to stem the tide of graffiti

The City Council of the City of Santa Fe Springs does hereby ordain as follows:

Section 1. The following new chapter 25 is hereby added to the Santa Fe Springs City Code:

“Graffiti Prevention, Prohibition and Removal”

Section 25.1 Purpose and Intent

The purpose of this Chapter is to help prevent the spread of graffiti and to establish a program for its removal from public and private property. The spread of graffiti on both public and private buildings, structures, or places causes blight within the City which results in a deterioration of the City. The City Council finds and determines that graffiti is obnoxious and a public nuisance which must be abated so as to avoid the detrimental impact of such graffiti on the City and to prevent the further spread of graffiti. The City Council further finds that the application of graffiti, as defined herein, is willful misconduct which damages or destroys property. Government Code Section 53069.3 permits the use of City funds to remove graffiti from public or privately owned permanent structures located on public or privately owned real property in the City.

Section 25.2 Graffiti Defined

Graffiti: means any unauthorized inscription, word, figure, or design that is marked, etched, scratched, drawn, or painted on any surface of public or private buildings, structures and placed.

Aerosol Paint Container: means any aerosol container regardless of the material from which it is made, which is adapted or made for the purpose of spraying paint or other substance capable of defacing property.

Felt Tip Marker: means any indelible marker or similar implement with a tip which, at its broadest width is greater than one-eighth (1/8th) inch, containing an ink that is not water soluble.

Paint Stick or Graffiti Stick: means any device containing a solid form of paint, chalk, wax, epoxy, or other similar substance capable of being applied to a surface by pressure, and upon application, leaving a mark at least one-eighth (1/8th) inch in width, visible from a distance of 20 feet, and not water soluble.

Graffiti Implement: means an aerosol paint container, a felt tip marker, or a paint stick or etching tool capable of scarring glass, metal, concrete or wood. /

Section 25.3 Graffiti Prohibition/Declaration of Public Nuisance

(1) It is unlawful for any person to paint, chalk, etch, or otherwise apply graffiti on public or privately owned buildings, permanent structures, or places located on public or privately owned property within the City.

(2) The existence of graffiti upon public or private property is hereby declared to be a public nuisance.

Section 25.4 Possession of Graffiti Implements

No person shall have in his or her possession any graffiti implement while in any public park, playground, swimming pool, public recreational facility, other public building owned or operated by the City of Santa Fe Springs or while loitering in or near an underpass, bridge abutment, storm drain, and other similar types of infrastructure not normally used by the public. This does not apply to employees or authorized agent of the City, patrons of the facility engaged in a bonafide project authorized by agents of the City, nor authorized employees of an individual or company under contract with the City which requires the use of such materials.

No person shall have in his or her possession any graffiti implement on any school property, grounds, facilities, buildings, or structures, nor in areas immediately adjacent to these specific locations. This does not apply to authorized employees or authorized agents of the School, school children lawfully possessing implements as agents of the school or where authorized by the school to be engaged in bonafide school projects, nor authorized employees of an individual or company under contract with the School which requires the use of such materials.

Section 25.5 Sales of Graffiti Implements

Every person who owns, conducts, operates, or manages a retail commercial establishment selling graffiti implements shall store or cause such implements to be stored in an area not accessible to the public without employee assistance, pending legal sale or disposition of such implements.

Section 25.6 Removal of Graffiti

Graffiti may be removed by either of the following methods:

(1) Any person applying graffiti within the City shall have the duty to remove same within twenty-four hours after notice by the City or the public or private owner of the property involved. Such removal shall be done in manner prescribed by the City Manager or his/her representative. Any person applying graffiti shall be responsible for such removal or for the payment thereof. Failure of any person to so remove graffiti shall constitute an additional violation of this Chapter. Where graffiti is applied by an unemancipated minor, the parent(s) or legal guardian (s) shall be responsible for such removal or for the payment into equivalent forms of community service hours. Such payments or equivalent forms of community service hours shall be in addition to any penalties imposed under this violations provisions of this article.

(2) Whenever the City Manager or his/her designated representative determines that graffiti is so located on public or privately owned structures on being viewed by a person utilizing any public right-of-way in this City, the City Manager, or his/her designated representative, is authorized to provide for the removal of the graffiti solely at the City’s expense, without reimbursement from the property owner upon whose property the graffiti has been applied, upon the following conditions:

(a) In removing the graffiti, the painting or repair of an area more extensive than where the graffiti is located shall not be authorized, except where the structure or property is City-owned and the city Manager or his/her designee determines that a more extensive area is to be repainted or repaired, or where the private property owner, or other public entity owner agrees to pay for the costs of repainting or repairing a more extensive area.

(b) Where a structure is owned by a public entity other than the City, the removal of the graffiti may be authorized only after securing the consent of the public entity having jurisdiction over the structure and release of the City from liability.

(c) Where a structure is privately owned, the removal of graffiti by City forces or by a private contractor under the direction of the City may be authorized only after securing the written consent of the owner and release of the City from liability.

Section 25.7 Reward

Pursuant to Government Code Section 53096.5 the City Council may, by resolution, establish a reward for information leading to the identification, apprehension, or conviction of any person who places graffiti upon any public or private property in the City. In the event of damage to public property the convicted offender or the parent (s) or legal guardian (s) of any unemancipated minor so convicted must reimburse the City for any reward paid.

Section 25.8 Violations

In addition to other penalties under state law which may be applicable, any violation of this chapter shall be a misdemeanor offense punishable by either six (6) months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both such fine and imprisonment.

Section 2. This Ordinance shall become effective immediately upon its adoption.

Section 3. The City Clerk shall certify to the adoption of this Ordinance, and shall cause the same to be posted in at least three (3) public places in the City, such posting to be completed not later than fifteen (15) days after the passage hereof.