[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Hellertown 11-17-2008 by Ord. No. 730. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Graffiti is detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the community in that it leads to urban blight; encourages gang activity; is detrimental to property values, business opportunities, and the enjoyment of life; is inconsistent with the Borough's property maintenance goals, aesthetic standards and desire for a clean and safe Borough; and results in additional graffiti and in other properties nearby becoming the target of graffiti unless it is quickly removed from public and private property. Graffiti results in visual pollution and is a public nuisance. Graffiti must be abated as quickly as possible to avoid detrimental impacts on the Borough and its residents and to prevent the further spread of graffiti.
It is the purpose of this chapter to:
Prohibit and restrict the possession of graffiti implements;
Prohibit the application of graffiti on any public or private property;
Require prompt removal of graffiti on all public or private property; and
Mandate the Hellertown Borough Police Department and/or the Borough Code Enforcement Officer shall have full jurisdiction over the administration and enforcement of the Hellertown Graffiti Ordinance.
It is the intention of the Borough of Hellertown through the adoption of this chapter to provide additional enforcement tools to protect public and private property from acts of graffiti vandalism and defacement. The chapter is not intended to conflict with any existing graffiti state law.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The removal, painting over or otherwise obscuring of graffiti from view.
- AEROSOL CONTAINER
- Any aerosol-based container which is capable of spraying paint, ink, dye or similar substance and leaving a visible mark on any natural or man-made surface.
- ETCHING MATERIALS
- Any etching tool, chemical, paste or similar material which is capable of being used to etch glass.
- Any unauthorized inscription, work, figure, mark, adhesive, label, patch or design that is written, marked, etched, scratched, drawn, painted or engraved on or otherwise affixed to any surface of public or private property, including but not limited to buildings, structures or places.
- GRAFFITI IMPLEMENT
- Etching material, including but not limited to paint sticks and markers, or any aerosol container which contains paint, ink, dye or any similar substance and which is capable of resulting in the placement of graffiti upon any surface or substance, including but not limited to glass, metal, concrete, wood and plastic.
- The owner of record of the property as set forth in the tax records.
- A legal or equitable interest in real or personal property, including but not limited to the interest of the tenant or lessee.
- RESPONSIBLE PARTY
- An owner or an entity or person acting as an agent for owner by agreement who has authority over the property or is responsible for the property's maintenance or management, irrespective of any arrangement to the contrary with any other party. Each owner shall be deemed a responsible party for the purpose of this chapter. There may be more than one responsible party for a particular property.
It is unlawful for any person to apply or endeavor to apply graffiti on public or privately owned buildings, permanent structures or places located on public or privately owned property within the Borough. It is unlawful for any person to solicit or command another person to apply graffiti. It is unlawful for any person to aid or abet or agree to aid or abet another person to plan to apply or apply graffiti. A violation of this provision shall constitute a summary offense.
It is unlawful for any person to have in his or her possession for the purpose of defacing property any graffiti implement while in any public park, school grounds, playground, swimming pool, public recreational facility, any public right-of-way, or other public grounds in the Borough of Hellertown or while on private property not open to the public without the owner's or agency's permission. All persons directly or indirectly involved in the acts of graffiti may be found to be equally responsible and guilty of this act, in addition to the individual who may personally deface the object or area, such as others in a group who knowingly made available the tools, writing material, ladders, look outs, materials or assistance or knowingly supplied funds to acquire such materials for such purposes. A violation of this provision shall constitute a summary offense.
It is unlawful for any owner or responsible party to maintain, permit or allow graffiti to remain on any property or item within the Borough that is visible to any person of normal eyesight utilizing any public road, alley, sidewalk or other facility open to the general public. Any owner or responsible party found in violation of this Subsection C shall be required to remove or cause to be removed the graffiti from the surface on which it was placed. Inasmuch as it is often not possible to determine the identity of the person who applied the graffiti, it shall be the duty of the owner or responsible party of the location on which the graffiti was applied to remove the graffiti within 20 days, weather conditions permitting, after receiving notice from the Borough. If after 20 days' notification of the violation the property owner has failed to remove the graffiti as required by this chapter, the Borough may take such steps as are necessary to remove the graffiti. Any cost or expense incurred by the Borough for removal and cleanup of private property may be billed to the owner within 14 days of removal. Upon failure to repay the Borough in a timely fashion, the Borough may file a municipal lien against the property. Failure to remove the graffiti within 20 days shall constitute a summary offense.
Graffiti shall be removed completely in a manner that renders it inconspicuous. When graffiti is painted out, the color used to paint it out shall match the original color of the surface or the surface shall be completely repainted with a new color that is aesthetically compatible with existing colors and architecture. The removal shall not leave shadows and shall not follow the pattern of the graffiti markings which have been removed. If the area is heavily covered with graffiti, the entire surface shall be repainted.
Any person found to be in violation of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $300 and, in default of payment of fine and costs, be imprisoned not more than 90 days.