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Property owners may face bill for graffiti cleanup



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SALT LAKE COUNTY -- The Salt Lake County Council will soon weigh in on a proposed ordinance that would fine people whose property has been tagged by graffiti, if they don't get it cleaned up quickly. Some people say that's not fair, others say it would keep their neighborhoods safer.

The proposal would apply to county residents of six townships and other unincorporated areas like Kearns and Magna.

Right now the county has no recourse for homeowners who won't clean up graffiti on their property.

The county will supply paint, solvent and even come clean up the graffiti if the homeowner asks, but still some residents won't do it.

Graffiti Program Manager Nancy White says graffiti that doesn't get cleaned up can make a neighborhood seem unsafe. She says, "It's like the broken window theory, where if something is wrong, one thing leads to another, and soon there's crime and other things going on rather than just the piece of graffiti on the fence."

White adds this is not a huge problem in the county and would only affect a small percentage of people.

One resident we talked to thought the $250 fee was too much. Resident Keith Hill said, "That's going way far. They need to not fine them, give them a warning, just not put the hammer down or anything. Just come out and say here's a ticket because you have not cleaned up the mess."

Mount Olympus Community Council Chair Jeff Silvestrini doesn't like it either. "Especially in circumstances where someone might have some kind of a disability or a problem," he said. "I know that the county has said that they would, you know, help people like that and, you know, I think that would be a better approach."

As part of the proposed ordinance, the county would send out warning letters notifying the property owner how many days they have left to clean up the graffiti until they are fined.

Next week a subcommittee of the county council will look at the proposed ordinance.

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Story compiled with contributions from Amanda Butterfield and Andrew Adams.

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