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Graffiti Removal

Graffiti Removal Program

The City of St. Petersburg's Graffiti Removal Program was started in 1995. The city, in partnership with City Codes Enforcement and the St. Petersburg Police Department, is committed to effectively preventing and removing graffiti and together strives to maintain a clean, safe, and graffiti-free city. The goal is to respond within 48 hours of notification since a swift response/removal discourages repeat incidents. The City photographs and documents all cases in a database which is shared with the SPPD for arrest or/and restitution action.

What is Graffiti?

(City Ordinance Section 19-63)

Graffiti is the writings, drawings, inscriptions, figures or marks of paint, ink, chalk, dye or other similar substances on public or private buildings, structures or places which are not authorized by the property owner or possessor or which are not permitted under the City’s Codes and ordinances. Per, the ordinance the term graffiti shall include any form of drawings, writings, markings or inscriptions regardless of the content of the nature of materials used in the commission of the act.

Types of Graffiti

The most common types of graffiti are “Tagging, Ethnic, Gang and Kids." Tagging is writing, or painting of an identifiable symbolic character or “tag” that may or may not contain letters or words. Ethnic, Gang and Kids types of graffiti are generally either personalized, political, offensive or hate-related.

Hate-related graffiti is graffiti motivated, in whole or in part, by hate/bias or prejudice based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor.

Where Is It?

Graffiti can be found almost everywhere -- in the downtown core, suburban neighborhoods and rural communities. It exists on many surfaces including bridges, buildings, walls, utility boxes, mailboxes, public service containers, traffic signs and on streets and sidewalks.

Who Is Affected?

(Code 1992,-19-102; Ordinance No. 117-G-1, 11-4-1993, Sec. 19-64) Prohibition of graffiti.

It shall be unlawful for any person to write, paint, inscribe, scratch, scrawl, spray, place or draw graffiti of any type on any public or private building, structure, or any other real or personal property.

Graffiti is not a victimless crime. If left to spread across our communities, it can:

  • Leave the impression that no one cares and that no one is in control
  • Lead to increased crime and vandalism
  • Discourage business and shopping and lead to lost business revenue
  • Decrease aesthetic appeal
  • Harm prosperity and reduce property values
  • Affect the sense of safety and security for residents and visitors

Taking Action

The Sanitation Department, along with primary city partners Codes Enforcement and the St. Petersburg Police Department, recognize that managing graffiti is most effective using a collaborative, multi-faceted, approach. This multi-faceted approach includes the following:

  • Education – Raising awareness in the community about the negative impact and costs associated with graffiti and about the importance of prevention and rapid removal.
  • Empowerment – Maximizing available resources and relationships and encouraging property owners to take a key role in deterring graffiti.
  • Eradication - Removing graffiti quickly and efficiently and encouraging timely reporting of graffiti.
  • Enforcement – Applying municipal and other relevant laws when necessary.

Goals of the Graffiti Management Strategy

In keeping with the objective to have a graffiti-free city that is clean and safe, The City and its residents are working towards this goal with a commitment to the following:

  • Removing graffiti as quickly as possible (within 48 hours)
  • Increasing community awareness to enhance notification of graffiti
  • Providing more information on how to prevent and remove graffiti
  • Adopting best practices and research based solutions to graffiti management

How Do I Report Graffiti?

Do not ignore graffiti – report it! The sooner graffiti is reported, the sooner it can be removed and the likelihood of recurrence is decreased with swift action. Below are some tips to help report graffiti:

  • If graffiti is seen in the public right of way or on private property, the city has four points of contact for reporting graffiti in the following order:
    • The Mayor's Action Center at 727-893-7111 (SeeClickFix)
    • Graffiti Abatement at 727-893-7394
    • Sanitation Department Customer Service at 727-893-7398
    • Code Enforcement at 727-893-7373

Graffiti and the Law

The law is clear---placing graffiti on public or private property is a crime.

Property Owners

(Ordinance, Sec. 19-65) Removal of Graffiti

It shall be unlawful for any person owning property, acting as manager or agent for the owner of the property, or in possession or control of property to fail to remove or effectively obscure any graffiti upon such property.

City Graffiti Removal

(Ordinance, Sec. 19-66)

(a) Whenever the City becomes aware of the existence of graffiti on any property, the POD is authorized to remove the graffiti as set forth in this section after giving, or causing to be given, written notice to remove or effectively obscure such graffiti to the property owner, such property owners agent or manager, or any other person in possession or control of the property.

If a property owner chooses not to comply with the written notice, the City may exercise its lawful right to remove the graffiti. Any associated costs for graffiti removal will be assessed to the property owner.

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