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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Santa Clarita OKs Speedy Graffiti Removal

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Santa Clarita City Council wants graffiti to disappear more quickly from local buildings.

Council members voted 5 to 0 Tuesday night to give property owners seven working days to remove graffiti from their business or residence after they are notified in writing by the city.

Property owners previously had 20 calendar days to clean up graffiti.

“The longer it stays up there, the more it is an attraction for another tagging group to come along or the same tagger to add more,” said Sgt. Carl Deeley, who heads the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station anti-gang unit. “It’s like putting up a sign.”

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Deeley said an average of 80 graffiti incidents per month occur in Santa Clarita, ranging from scrawls on street signs to major vandalism on local buildings.

The amendment was toned down from an earlier suggestion by Santa Clarita’s Pride Committee, the all-volunteer group that cleans up graffiti in the valley.

During a June 30 City Council study session, committee members asked that property owners be given just 48 hours to remove graffiti.

Although local business representatives agree it is better to clean up the markings as fast as possible, they believed two days was an unrealistic request.

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“We did think 48 hours was a little restrictive and could create a hardship for some,” said Marlee Lauffer, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Public Works Director Jeff Kolin agreed in his report to the council, saying a 48-hour requirement “would convey the wrong message to private property owners” and be difficult to enforce.

Business groups, anti-graffiti volunteers, law enforcement and city staffers all considered seven days an acceptable compromise.

Property owners can either remove the graffiti themselves or ask the Pride Committee to do so, Kolin said. If an owner refuses to clean up the markings, Santa Clarita can obtain court authorization to remove the graffiti and charge the owner for the materials.

The City Council is scheduled to take final action on the amendment Oct. 12.


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