[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the City of Mount Vernon 12-23-1997, approved 12-24-1997; amended in its entirety 7-13-2011, approved 7-14-2011. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The City Council of the City of the City of Mount Vernon hereby finds and declares that graffiti creates a nuisance for our residents and merchants. The unabated proliferation of graffiti is a physical blight upon the landscape of the City and costs taxpayers, merchants and homeowners substantial moneys to remove and repair. The City Council also finds that when unchecked, graffiti presents an image of a deteriorating community that no longer cares about itself.
Whenever the following terms are used in this chapter, they shall have the following meaning:
- ABATEMENT OFFICIAL
- The Commissioner of Public Works or a designee or a duly authorized representative.
- The unauthorized writing, drawing, spraying of paint or marking of paint, ink, chalk, dye or other similar substances on any fence, wall, building, public or private, vehicles, or any other property, real or personal, owned, operated or maintained by any public benefit corporation the City of Mount Vernon or by any person, firm or corporation, or any agency or instrumentality thereof.
- GRAFFITI ABATEMENT PROCEDURE
- An abatement procedure which identifies graffiti, issues notice to the landowner or person in possession or tenant to abate the graffiti, and provides for a remedy in the absence of a timely compliance.
- PRIVATE CONTRACTOR
- Any person with whom the City shall have duly contracted to remove graffiti.
- Without the permission of the landowner or person in possession or tenant in possession or control of the subject property.
It shall be unlawful for any person to place graffiti, as defined herein, upon any fence, wall, building, public or private, vehicles, or any other property, real or personal, owned, operated or maintained by any public benefit corporation, the City of Mount Vernon or by any person, firm or corporation, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, in the City of Mount Vernon.
It shall also be unlawful for any person owning or otherwise being in control of the subject property within the City to maintain or permit or allow any graffiti to be placed upon or remain upon any fence, wall, building, public or private, vehicles or any other property, real or personal, when the graffiti is visible from the street or other public or private or commercial property.
Whenever the abatement official determines that graffiti on any fence, wall, building, public or private, vehicles or any other property, real or personal, is visible from the street or other public or private or commercial property, the abatement official may cause a prosecution to be brought against the person actually placing the graffiti on the building, fence, wall or other structure.
The abatement official having determined the existence of graffiti on any fence, wall, building, public or private, vehicles or any other property, real or personal, in violation of this chapter shall cause a written abatement notice to be served upon the landowner or person in possession or control of the premises or tenant of the affected premises in the following manner:
By personal service on the landowner, person in possession or control of the premises or tenant of the subject property, in which case the thirty-day curative period shall begin to run from the date of said service; or
By posting the notice on the property and sending said notice by registered or certified mail addressed to the landowner, person in possession or control of the premises or tenant of the subject property at the last known address of said person, in which case the thirty-day curative period shall begin to run from the date of that said notice is posted or said receipt is dated received or, if rejected, the last date of attempted delivery, whichever is later.
The abatement official may issue an abatement notice against the landowner, person in possession and control or tenant of the subject property in accordance with the graffiti abatement procedure set forth hereinafter.
Any person who violates § 144-3A of this chapter shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500 for the first offense, and of not more than $1,000 for a second or subsequent offense or shall be imprisoned for not more than 15 days in jail, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
In addition to any other penalty authorized by this section, any person convicted of violating § 114-3A shall be required to completely remove said graffiti from the subject property so as to restore the site to the condition existing prior to commission of the violation.
Any occupant, owner, lessee, sublessee, agent and/or landlord of any commercial or residential property located within the City of Mount Vernon which has been found guilty of having any form of graffiti on its property after the thirty-day notice as designated in § 144-4A shall be punished by a fine of $250 for each week of violation. Each week the graffiti is permitted to remain on the premises after the curative period designated in § 144-6A shall constitute a separate and distinct offense and shall be punishable by separate and distinct cumulative amounts of fines not to exceed $250 for each offense.
Upon failure of the landowner or person in possession or control or tenant of the subject property to comply with the notice of abatement within the 30 days given for compliance, the abatement official shall so advise the Commissioner of Public Works of said noncompliance. The Commissioner of Public Works or designee or agents are then authorized to issue a summons and to enter upon the subject property and cause such graffiti to be removed by City personnel or by a private contractor.
The cost of the removal of the graffiti and/or repainting shall be at the cost and expense of the occupant, owner, lessee, sublessee, agent and/or landlord of the property, reduced only by the amount recovered, if any, by the City from the person(s) found guilty of actually causing the graffiti to be made.
The actual cost of the removal of the graffiti and/or repainting, plus the cost of the inspection of said property and other costs incidental to such removal, shall thereupon become a lien upon the real property upon which the graffiti was found to be and shall be added to and become a part of the taxes next to be assessed and levied on such real property, and the same shall be collected and enforced in the same manner as general City taxes.
In all cases where the Commissioner of Public Works certifies expenses to the City Council pursuant to the foregoing provision of this section, he shall simultaneously transmit to the Comptroller a duplicate original of such certification and the Comptroller shall upon receipt thereof forthwith docket the amount of such expense in the tax rolls against the real property affected with a notation "Assessment pending pursuant to § 144-6 of the City Code."
If the landowner, person in possession and control or the tenant of the subject premises within 15 days from receipt of an abatement notice notifies the abatement official or designee that it is unable to abate the graffiti because of economic hardship and establishes the same to the abatement official or designee, the City may enter into a payment installment agreement for the cost of inscribed graffiti removal and upon receipt of 50% of the cost thereof may remove said graffiti.
The City shall follow the procedure set forth in Chapter 80 of the Code of the City of Mount Vernon pertaining to the abatement of public nuisances in general in order to obtain reimbursement for expenses incurred as a result of the removal of graffiti under this chapter.
The City Council hereby creates the City of Mount Vernon Anti-Graffiti Trust Fund. Penalties assessed against violators of this chapter shall be placed in the fund, along with any monetary donations received from persons wishing to contribute to the fund. The Council shall direct expenditures of moneys in the fund. Such expenditures shall be limited to the payment of the cost of graffiti removal, the payment of rewards for information leading to the conviction of violation of the chapter, the costs of administering the chapter, and such other public purpose as may be approved by the City Council.
The provisions of this chapter are severable and if any part or subsection is determined to be invalid the remaining provisions shall remain in full force and effect.