Friday, May 04, 2012

Ridiculous Laws of the Week - Part 7 - graffiti damage burden

It's time to bring back the ridiculous law of the week. It hasn't been every week, although I try to get one up every week. 

This ordinance comes from the City of Ann Arbor. I understand that Ann Arbor and other cities and townships want to fight urban blight and places with a lot of graffiti on walls and businesses are not the image city council members would like to see when people visit their city. However, this crosses the line here.

No person who owns or otherwise controls or manages any property shall permit or allow any graffiti to be or remain on any surface or structure on the property beyond the time indicated in a notice, which shall be no less than seven (7) calendar days after the notice is posted on the property or delivered to the property owner and no less than nine (9) calendar days if the notice is mailed. If removal of the graffiti by the date set in the notice is not possible due to weather or other reasonable cause, then on or before the date set in the notice the person to whom the notice is issued or his or her agent shall contact the City as indicated in the notice to request an extension. Removal of graffiti may be by means of actual physical removal or covering the graffiti over with paint or other similar substance applied to the surface or structure.
A violation of this subsection is not a civil infraction or a misdemeanor.
Notice by the City to remove graffiti from a property may be made by mailing it to the property owner, as shown on assessment records, delivering it to the owner or posting it at a conspicuous place on the property.
If any graffiti remains on the property beyond the time indicated in a notice, then the City may remove the graffiti or have it removed in any reasonable manner. The costs to the City for removal and administration shall be charged to the owner and, if not paid, assessed against the property in accordance with section 1:292 of Chapter 13 of this Code.
The victim may proceed with any private right of action provided under law against a person who has applied graffiti or the parent or guardian of a minor.

I didn't copy the first part of the statute. That simply bans people from putting graffiti on walls which is reasonable. My problem is the part in bold. Now, it could be worse. At least the City of Ann Arbor didn't make that a misdemeanor or felony like everything else seems to be these days. It's not even a civil infraction ticket, but part five shifts costs from the jackasses to the owners. Grafitti cleanup is not cheap. The owners probably didn't tag their walls. Others did it, and they have to pay for it in most cases unless it's the rare time a tagger gets dinged for it.

Combating blight is a legitimate purpose, but the process in combating it is also important. I have on principle a major problem with victims being forced to pay due to the actions of criminals who do not respect people's property.

1 comment:

Government Watch said...

What about the neighboring property that isn't maintained. Perhaps the owner died and the property is in probate with no relatives within a 1,000 miles. What if the property is tied up in bankruptcy? This ordinance gives the city the authority to enter the property and clean-up the mess. Isn't that a good thing for the neighbors? We need to do more to prevent and control graffiti vandalism. If I missed something, ping me at