City working to clean up graffiti

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Albany City Commission voted 5-2 to tentatively adopt a new ordinance requiring graffiti to be removed within five days of being reported.

After discussing costs and the impact on the business community, the commission ultimately decided to go with the recommendation of Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful.

That recommendation was backed by local business property owner Wayne Carter, who said he'd also like to see the city set a goal of removing graffiti off its own property within 24 hours.

"The quicker we can remove this, the stronger the message we'll send to those who are doing it," Carter said.

Commissioners Tommy Postell and Bob Langstaff both voted against the measure out of concern that five days may be too short of a time frame to remove the paint.

KADB Director Judy Bowles said that a study started in October showed 75 different sites had been "tagged" with graffiti -- the majority on city-owned property.

The ordinance doesn't necessarily require property owners to remove the graffiti, although commissioners expressed a hope that they would. What it does stipulate, however, is that the city has the right after five days to allow someone onto private property to remove the graffiti.

Options discussed Tuesday include the use of inmate labor or creating an addendum to the city's budget to fund the supplies that KADB volunteers would use to clean up the graffiti.

The current ordinance, which was adopted in the late 1980's, also conflicts with a state law that was passed in 2003 which prohibits liens from being placed on property owners to pay for graffiti removal.

The ordinance that was selected by the commission Tuesday will exclude the lien language to bring it in line with state law and will change the number of days owners have to remove the paint from 30 to five.

The discussion comes as cities and property owners around the state are struggling to cope with growing graffiti problems.

An article in Monday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows Dave MacDonald and Stan Mobley along with the Jenkins Metal & Supply Company in Atlanta are suing a group of graffiti taggers in state court and are asking for $1 million in punitive damages to discourage the practice and send a message to those who vandalize private property.

The two told reporters that they had spent countless hours cleaning up and painting over spray-painted signs and words on their home.