San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

September 21st, 2009
Public forum on graffitti ordinance Monday night

STAFF REPORT

Interested citizens are invited to attend a public forum on a proposed graffiti ordinance conducted by the San Marcos Parks and Recreation Department and the Beautification Commission. The forum will be on Monday from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Activity Center, 501 East Hopkins Street.

The ordinance under discussion is posted online at www.sanmarcostx.gov/cityhall/beautification/. Residents are encouraged to attend and offer their comments.

Light refreshments at the open house detailing the beautification efforts, starting at 7 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., the commission will start the meeting and open the floor to public comments. Attendees wishing to speak during the public comment portion must sign up as they enter the meeting and comments are limited to three minutes per person.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit graffiti implements in schools, public grounds and buildings and other locations, near underpasses, bridges, overpasses, storm drains or similar structures, or on private property without the consent of the owner.

It also requires those who apply graffiti to remove it and restore property to its original condition or face being charged with an offense for every day that the person fails to remove the graffiti.

In addition, the ordinance will allow parents and guardians of children ages 10-17 to be charged with an offense if they “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence” allow the child who has previously received one or more citations for violations of this section to violate the graffiti ordinance.

“We encourage all interested citizens to attend the hearing and offer their suggestions and comments,” said William Ford, Assistant Director of Community Services at Parks  & Recreation. “Our goal is to create an ordinance that can serve as a guide for controlling graffiti in San Marcos.”

After the public hearing, the beautification committee will discuss consideration. The city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board will be instructed to make comments during the public hearing process.

Individuals who require auxiliary aids and services for the hearing should contact the City of San Marcos ADA Coordinator at 393-8244 (voice) or 393-8229 (TDD).

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10 thoughts on “Public forum on graffitti ordinance Monday night

  1. I thought this was dead.

    I just re-read the proposed ordinance and an offense is committed (among other scenarios) if someone has in their possession:

    One spray paint can, or a combination of two felt tip markers, paint sticks, or etching tools.

    and is within 10 feet of an underpass, overpass, bridge abutment, storm drain, public right of way, or other similar type of infrastructure.

    The police will question the individual and determine that no offense has taken place, if the individual uses the implements for work, school, civic or religious activity.

    So, if I walk to Wal-Mart (because we want to be pedestrian-friendly and frequenting big-box stores is critical to our economy) and I buy some spray paint for an old grill I want to clean up and some markers for some yard sale signs, I am breaking the law every time I pass within 10 feet of an underpass, overpass, bridge abutment, storm drain, public right of way or other similar infrastructure.

    Could someone please draw me a map back to my house? The best route I can find has me breaking the law a dozen times.

  2. I know. And we had a rash of graffiti over here not too long ago, including some cars that were tagged in the parking lot on the corner of Sessom and LBJ.

    I’m all for keeping the graffiti under control, but this just seems like another bad ordinance.

    Why is it that so many of these seem to be designed either to do little more than make people feel good, or, on the other end of the spectrum, to make everyone a criminal?

    Maybe it is just my imagination.

  3. anti-graffiti.org has some suggested verbiage for ordinances, which sounds strikingly similar to ours, but theirs defines the offense as being within 50 feet of various structures, which is even worse.

    It still sounds extreme to me, though.

    I believe the State of Texas already has ordinances regarding the possession of graffiti implements:

    13.40.030 Possession of a marker by a minor.

    A. It is unlawful for a minor to possess a marker

    B. It shall be an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the minor was furnished with the marker by his or her parent or guardian or by another person for use in the minor’s employment or in connection with a school, civic or religious activity, and the minor was supervised by such parent, guardian, or other person who regained the marker from the minor immediately upon completion of the minor’s use of the marker (Ord. 12965 4, 1996)

    13.40.040 Possession of aerosol containers of paint by minors.

    A. It is unlawful for a minor to possess an aerosol container of paint
    B. It shall be an affirmative defense to prosecution under subsection A of this section that.

    1. The minor possessed the aerosol container of paint in connection with a use in accordance with its intended purpose;

    2. An adult having supervisory responsibility over the minor provided the minor with the aerosol container of paint;

    3. The minor’s possession and use of the aerosol container of paint took place under such adult’s direct supervision and in such adult’s presence; and

    4. The adult regained the aerosol container of paint from the minor immediately upon completion of the minor’s use of the aerosol container of paint. (Ord. 12965 5 (part), 1996)

    13.40.050 Possession of aerosol containers of paint and markers in public areas

    A. It is unlawful for any person age eighteen or older to possess an aerosol container of paint or a marker on the property of another or in any public building or upon any public facility, other than on the premises of the person’s employer.

    B. It shall be an affirmative defense to prosecution under subsection A of this section that the owner, manager, or other person having administrative or other control of the property, building, or facility consented to the presence of the aerosol container of paint or marker.

  4. I wonder what conservatives think about this proposed ordinance. It sure sounds like big, over-reaching government. Existing laws are sufficient to charge and successfully prosecute such dangerous criminals but require competent police work. Anyway, I think it was Bakunin who said that the urge to destroy is a creative urge….graffiti is relatively harmless youthful rebellion, creativity and social commentary and should continue to be tolerated to the extent that it currently is. Adding another layer of illegality to it is only going to give it more cache. The bigger question is: who are the fools with the forethought to bring markers into bathroom stalls at bars to write drunken, moronic commentary – that could be a brilliant dissertation. You could probably win an NSF grant.

  5. If you accept that “[e]xisting laws are sufficient to charge and successfully prosecute such dangerous [sic] criminals but require competent police work” then a “conservative” would think the proposed ordinance an overreach. The question is where you find one who fears the nanny state on this Council?
    As for social commentary, graffiti hijacks a conversation and gives the author more exposure than their experiences would warrant in the normal marketplace for ideas. Youthful rebellion is rarely worthy of monument, but there are certainly greater social threats.

  6. Maybe there is a limit to how much time one can spend going to these meetings.

    I’ve got a TAB meeting tonight, which means that I won’t be able to go to the P&Z meeting, despite there being an agenda item that concerns me. I also work in San Antonio, which makes it remarkable hard to get to many of these meetings.

    Plus I have CONA meetings, neighborhood meetings for TAB concerns, I’m taking the day off Friday, to see the status of the Wonder World extension.

    Oh, and did I mention that I’m also a student?

    So, I apologize for not getting to EVERY meeting that concerns me. If you care to post your full name, I’ve got a crisp $100 bill here that says I hit more meetings than you do.

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