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

August 13th, 2009
Kyle council looks at graffiti ordinance

News Reporter

The Kyle City Council discussed a possible graffiti ordinance last week that would set up a program to notify citizens of vandalism on their properties and offer to clean it up.

City Manager Tom Mattis said the ordinance is a “routine update recommended by the city attorney,” adding that it came in response to a complaint about a foreclosed home that had been vandalized. Mattis said graffiti ordinances are common in most cities.

“It compels that the city remove the graffiti free of charge,” he said, explaining fines would be assessed only in extreme cases, such as when the property owner refuses to remove the graffiti or allow the city to do it for them within 15 days. “This ordinance simply provides a mechanism for others to notify the city.”

Mattis stressed the point because, earlier in the council meeting, a concerned citizen who described herself as “furious” about the new ordinance said that it would make citizens victims twice. She said that paint is very expensive to buy nowadays, and pointed out that there has been graffiti on a bridge behind her house for eight months with foul language that her son has been forced to see.

Kyle Mayor Mike Gonzalez seemed unexcited about the proposal, saying, “We’re actually going to use public funds to clean private property?” He also expressed concern about business owners making the city clean up graffiti on their properties.

However, Councilmember David Salazar said the City of Austin has a very similar ordinance.

“I’ve gone out with kids and cleaned graffiti in a program for juvenile offenders,” he said. “We might consider something like this.”

Councilmember Lucy Johnson was concerned about an exception in the ordinance for graffiti on transportation infrastructure. Mattis told her the exception meant that private property owners would not be responsible for vandalism on city roads and railways that run through their properties. Councilmember David Wilson said railroad properties, especially bridges, are prime graffiti spots.

Salazar suggested extending the 15-day time in which citizens would have to respond to a city graffiti notification to 30 days.

“At least give them a little time to get it going,” he said.

The other councilmembers seemed to agree.

Mattis then said staff would ask the city attorney to address the outstanding issues.

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