Prohibiting Graffiti and Providing for Removal

ORDINANCE 2012-22

An Ordinance Defining and Prohibiting Graffiti and Providing for Removal and
Penalties for Violations in the City of Hazleton

WHEREAS, the Council of the City of Hazleton recognizes the importance of the quality of life and knows that the problems arising from an erosion of the quality of life it is the desire of the Council of the City of Hazleton to maintain a City that is clean and free from graffiti; and

WHEREAS, graffiti is a sign of decay and makes people feel that their neighborhood is being lost to gangs and crime, and, if allowed to remain, it sends the message that the community is unconcerned about its appearance; and

WHEREAS, rapid removal of graffiti is an effective prevention tool, and data shows that removal within 24 to 48 hours results in a nearly zero rate of recurrence; and

WHEREAS, it is necessary for the general health, safety, and well being of the people of the City of Hazleton that graffiti be rapidly and properly removed, and a Graffiti Ordinance be enacted.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the Council of the City of Hazleton, as follows:

Section 1. Definitions.

GRAFFITI - any unlawful inscription, word, figure, painting, or other defacement that is written, marked, scratched, drawn, painted or engraved on or otherwise affixed to any surface of public or private property by any graffiti instrument to the extent that graffiti was not authorized in advance by the owner or the occupant of the property, or despite advanced authorization, deemed a public nuisance.

Section 2. Prohibited Acts.

DEFACEMENT.  It shall be unlawful for any person, after proper notification by the City of Hazleton, to allow graffiti to remain to/upon any natural or manmade surface of any public or private property. 

Section 3. Notification of Violation.

Whenever it has been determined that graffiti exists on any building or structure within the City, public or private, the City or its agent shall notify the owner of the property and request a determination as to which following course of action the owner will take to have it promptly removed:

A. The owner pays to have the graffiti removed at his/her own expense and in accordance with his/her own exacting standards.

     (1) Every attempt shall be made to have the graffiti removed as quickly as possible.   

B. The owner requests to have the City remove the graffiti.

     (1) The City shall make every attempt to use volunteer or community service personnel, and donated paint and/or materials. Should any expense be incurred, a bill for the total cost (equipment, supplies, and manpower) shall be provided to the property owner and submitted to their insurance. Any reimbursement from the insurance carrier shall be given to the City by the owner as payment for expenses incurred. At no time shall the owner have to reimburse the City more than the amount returned by the insurance carrier.

     (2) Should the property owner opt to have the City of Hazleton remove the graffiti, the City shall place the property on a list for rapid removal. The property owner shall sign a Release and Hold Harmless Agreement releasing the City from all liability for things such as mismatched paint or workmanship not up to the standard of the property owner.

Section 4. Penalties.

The City shall make every attempt at working with the public to have graffiti removed and minimize expenses. However, the rapid removal of graffiti is crucial to a successful maintenance of the quality of life.

If an owner is notified by the City of graffiti and the owner selects to remove the graffiti themselves, the graffiti shall be removed within thirty (30) days of notice. If the graffiti is not removed, that owner shall be in violation of Section 2 of this Ordinance and shall be subject to a fifty ($50.00) dollar fine issued by the Hazleton City Police for the first offense. After the issuance of a first offense citation, each ten (10) day period shall constitute a separate and subsequent offense and each offense shall be subject to a separate violation. Second offenses shall be one hundred ($100.00) dollars, and third and subsequent offenses shall be two hundred ($200.00) dollars each.

Failure to pay the fine within ten (10) days shall subject the violator to arrest by the Hazleton City Police or any other lawful law enforcement officer, shall be prosecuted in proceedings before the District Justice in the City of Hazleton, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be deemed guilty of an offense and shall be subject to the penalties set forth on Chapter 1, Article II, Violation of Penalties, of the City Code.

Section 5. Severability.

Should any Court of competent jurisdiction declare any section, clause or provision of this Ordinance to be invalid, such decision shall only affect such section, clause or provision so declared invalid, and shall not effect any other section, clause or provision of the Ordinance.

Section 6.  Any Ordinance or part of an Ordinance conflicting with the provisions of this Ordinance shall be and the same is hereby repealed to the extent of such conflict.

Section 7. This Ordinance shall be effective immediately upon passage and approved in the manner prescribed by law.

ORDAINED AND ENACTED by Council this 15th day of August, 2012.

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