Hermiston property owners to pay for graffiti abatement

<p>Graffiti</p>

Graffiti

Property owners in Hermiston will soon have to foot the bill for any graffiti found on their property, after the city council passes a new graffiti ordinance last night.

Before last night's decision, there was no city code in place requiring graffiti to be removed from private properties, so many property owners say anything that will help clean up the city is a good idea.

But others believe it's not fair to force property owners to pay for crimes they're a victim of.

Darrel Sallee's business has been hit with graffiti before.

A couple years ago, part of his radiator shop was tagged.

"I wouldn't say that it's a big problem, but it does show its nasty head occasionally" said Sallee.

In an effort to help clean up the community, Hermiston City Council members passed a new graffiti ordinance last night.

The ordinance gives property owners seven days to clean up any graffiti found on their property.

If they don't clean it up, the city will bring in a contractor to do it for them - but that won't be free.

Property owners will have to pay for the city's cost - which could vary, and if they don't pay the city back within 60 days, the cost will then become a lien on the property.

"We expect a lot of people to pay the city back before it goes to the lien process. And if it does go to the lien process, then it's a longer term recoup of that cost. But several years down the road, when the property sells, then the city will get that cost back" said Mark Morgan, City of Hermiston.

Many residents across Hermiston are glad the city is stepping up to solve the graffiti problem.

But some say, this isn't the right way to do it.

"I don't agree with it, but they have to do something" said Jeremy Sallee, Hermiston resident.

In the past, the city has paid for clean up costs, but city employees say that's not fair to the tax payers.

"This has essentially equated to the other property owners in the city are paying to help clean up private property in the city" said Morgan.

Sallee says graffiti creates a lose-lose situation.

But he hopes proactive action from the city will help curb those crimes.

"When there's a crime, and it happens, whether it be that or somebody throws a rock through your window, it still needs to be repaired, still needs to be addressed" said Sallee.

If property owners don't do the work themselves or hire a contractor themselves, the city will charge an additional 10% administration fee to clean up any graffiti.

The ordinance goes into effect April 25th.

Last year, there were 70 reports of graffiti in the city.

City council members also passed an ordinance banning the sale of graffiti implements to minors.

That includes aerosol paint cans, etching devices, and felt tip markers wider than one inch.