New city code calls for graffiti cover-up within two days

North Bend's City Council adopted an aggressive stance on graffiti, or tagging, Sept. 4, when it approved a new code for the city's books.

Chapter 8 of the North Bend Municipal Code will require property owners to paint over any graffiti on their properties within 48 hours of its appearance, in accordance with a National Crime Prevention Council finding that graffiti removed with in 48 hours is unlikely to re-occur.

"The studies have shown that the most effective way to deal with graffiti is to expeditiously remove it," said City Administrator Londi Lindell.

Toward that end, the new code also sets a civil fine of $75 per day that graffiti remains visible after the initial two-day period.

Londell did not anticipate ever fining a residential property owner, however, because public properties and abandoned buildings are the most common targets of graffiti artists. Also, she said the code includes an appeal process for property owners.

A more important element of the code will be the city's ability to remove graffiti from such public or abandoned properties, she added. At its own expense, North Bend can paint over graffiti that's visible from public streets or rights-of-way. That includes other public entities' properties, such as bridges, provided the city has permission from the entity. In some circumstances, the city might be able to charge property owners for the clean-up.

"I wouldn't say (graffiti) was a huge problem for the city, but if it does occur … we will be much more effective at dealing with it," she said.

Graffiti is on the increase, however. Lindell said the code was prompted by reports from Police Chief Mark Toner that the tags, including suspected gang signs were becoming a more common sight in the city.

The new code takes effect Monday, Sept. 17. North Bend is also hoping to form a volunteer group of graffiti-coverers with help from the Snoqualmie Valley Community Network.


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