Graffiti is a blighting influence on our city that negatively impacts our business districts and neighborhoods. The unconscious connection between graffiti and more serious crimes leads to decreases in property values and business growth. Some graffiti may effect citizens’ perception of crime and can discourage tourism in the community. Successful anti-graffiti efforts are based upon a cooperative approach by citizens and law enforcement. Private citizens are encouraged to take active steps in reporting graffiti and other suspicious activity to the police. Permitting or allowing graffiti to remain on your property is a violation of city ordinance. Removing graffiti sends a message to vandals that people care about the community and are watchful of crime and problems in their neighborhoods. Rapid and continual removal of graffiti is an effective way to preserve our community image and provide for a sense of security.
Graffiti is unappealing, but just as unsightly are the results of ineffective removal attempts and/or inappropriate clean-up methods. Unfortunately, many restoration and removal efforts leave surfaces looking as bad (or worse) than they were before the work began. Graffiti can be removed or covered in several ways:
- Solvents or chemicals designed for graffiti removal.
- Pressure washing the surface.
- Painting over the surface.
Tips for painting over the graffiti:
- Try to color-match paint to surface whenever possible.
- Always save paint for necessary touch-ups later.
- Avoid painting unpainted masonry surfaces
- Help neighbors who may need assistance in removing or painting over the graffiti.
- Do not get discouraged. Repeated paint-overs will likely be needed, as vandals may try again. However, if you remove it promptly, vandals will realize that graffiti will not be tolerated in that area and will likely move on.
- It takes persistence, but you can keep your neighborhood clean and the effects of vandalism to a minimum.
- Plant trees, shrubs or climbing vines to restrict access to tempting walls. Incorporating plants with thorns and needles are a good deterrent.
- Add or improve lighting, including motion lights, around the area to promote natural surveillance.
- Choose paints and coating to deter graffiti. Dark colors make graffiti harder to see. Anti-graffiti coatings are also available.
- Be a good neighbor and be watchful of your property and others. Report any suspicious activity to the police immediately.
- Consider joining or forming a Neighborhood Watch group. Watch groups serve as extra eyes and ears for reporting crimes and helping neighbors. They also strengthen the bond between citizens and law enforcement in the community.
Who to Call
Report graffiti to the Lawrence Police Department at (785) 832-7509. To report a property where the owner has failed to remove graffiti, contact the Planning and Development Services at (785) 832-3111. If you have suspect information about incidents of graffiti, call Crime Stoppers at (785) 843-TIPS (8477). For possible assistance in removing graffiti once it has been reported to the police department, contact Douglas County Community Corrections at (785) 832-5220. If resources are available, they will attempt to remedy the problem in a reasonable time period. If Community Corrections is unable to assist, the property owner is still ultimately responsible for the removal/ covering of the graffiti.
Lawrence Graffiti Ordinances
14-1002 DEFACEMENT OR DAMAGE OF PROPERTY BY GRAFFITI; MUNICIPAL OFFENSE
Any person who writes, prints, marks, sprays, scratches, scrawls, paints, draws, etches or other affixes graffiti upon any property, publicly owned or privately owned, without the consent of the property owner shall be guilty of a municipal offense, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not less than $250 or more than $1,000 or by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. The municipal court judge shall order defendants convicted of a violation of this Section to pay restitution to the property owner in appropriate cases. (Ord. 6782)
14-1003 GRAFFITI DECLARED A PUBLIC NUISANCE; PROPERTY OWNERS DUTY TO REMOVE GRAFFITI
The existence of graffiti upon any structural component of any building, wall, fence, sidewalk, curb, or structure or other facility on public or private property with the City of Lawrence, Kansas is declared to be a public nuisance and it shall be the duty of the property owner with property defaced by graffiti to remove, abate, or cover such graffiti. In cases where the property owner claims that the graffiti was authorized by the property owner, the public officer shall make findings whether the graffiti is a neighborhood blight and public nuisance findings are made, the graffiti shall constitute a public nuisance and it shall be the duty of the property owner to remove, abate, or cover such graffiti. Graffiti shall be subject to abatement and removal by the City as provided by law. (Ord. 6782)
14-1004 NOTICE TO REMOVE GRAFFITI
Whenever a public officer authorized to enforce this Article finds graffiti on any property within the City of Lawrence, the public officer shall be authorized to cause a Notice to Remove Graffiti to be served upon the owner as provided by this Article. Prior to issuance of a Notice to Remove Graffiti, the public officer shall be authorized to make reasonable attempts to notify the owner through direct communication, telephone or other informal means concerning the graffiti and requirements for graffiti removal. Such communications may include information regarding available resources to property owners to assists in the removal of graffiti, including volunteer assistance, community service assistance, paint supplies, and other resources which may be available.
If all graffiti is not permanently removed from the above described property within fourteen (14) days form the date of this notice, the City will cause it to removed and the charges for removal shall become a personal obligation and a lien upon your property.
If you object to the removal of the graffiti from your premises, you may appeal to the City Clerk by filing a written notice of appeal in the Office of the City Clerk, City Hall, 6 E 6th Street, Lawrence Kansas. Such written notice must be filed within ten (10) days from the date of this notice. Failure to appeal shall be constructed as your acceptance of the determination of the City of Lawrence and any all remedies provided by the Code of the City of Lawrence, Kansas.
The public officer shall enforce the provisions of this ordinance pursuant to the provisions of the Notice to Remove Graffiti in substantially the manner as presented in the above form. (Ord. 6782)