Mville to ponder tougher vandalism measures
August 28, 2008 · Updated 10:00 AM
MARYSVILLE Merchants are balking at proposed measures that would require them to keep markers and spray paint cans under lock and key as Marysville fights a rise in graffiti and vandalism.
The city has suffered from the twin scourges over the last year and formed a task force to deal with the issues, as some of tagging reflects gang activity. Local school districts, police agencies and a variety of business interests will meet this week to ponder measures aimed to reduce the occurrence or duration of graffiti.
Proposed measures would require property owners to paint over graffiti in as little as 24 or 48 hours or face possible fines from the city. Merchants could be required to keep some items under lock and key to prevent their sale to or theft by minors. The city is proposing requiring businesses to allow city volunteers to cover graffiti as soon as it appears as part of a reduced business license fee. Local businesses have donated paint that the volunteers can use to cover up tagging as soon as members from the Marysville Seniors Against Crime see it, but that carrot wont make up for the additional burdens the proposed laws will have on businesses, some say.
The lock and key could be a real hardship. I want to hear from some of the retailers who sell these items, said Caldie Rogers, president of the Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce. The chamber is polling members to find out what they think of some moves being mulled by the graffiti task force, and Rogers wants to make sure the city hears from folks who sign the front of a paycheck.
Clearly, action has to be taken, but it has to be crafted together, Rogers said. It is absolutely imperative that business weighs in. Business will have no right to complain unless they get involved in the process.
City leaders will meet to ponder tougher countermeasures to fight vandalism and graffiti, and some of measures might just mean keeping spray paint and markers behind store counters. That could require hard-pressed business owners to use high-cost real estate to house wares that offer a low markup. And then it wont stop vandals from bringing paint from Dads garage or out of town, according to Becky Foster, owner of Bruce and Beckys Interiors in the north of Marysville.
Thats ridiculous, Foster said, noting that when she buys pipe cleaners to make dolls with, they are kept under lock and key alongside of tobacco products at some stores. The citys idea is much of the same nonsense and she said its too much regulation for businesses that are swamped with rules already. It certainly isnt going to stop it.
Foster suggested allowing property owners and residents up to 72 hours to cover or remove graffiti, and suggested the MSAC volunteers be allowed to cover tagging immediately with primer or neutral colors that owners can cover with matching paint in a reasonable period of time. She said business owners should also be held responsible for road signs that get tagged, noting one sign that has been marred for a long time. Some allowance should be made for property owners that get tagged repeatedly, Foster added.
John Bell is a retired Boeing engineer who owns the Willis Hall winery near 116th Street NE. He gave a thumbs down to the proposed laws keeping felt tip pens and spray paint under lock and key or visual supervision, as well as a proposed ban of their sale to minors. But Bell said the current 30 days the city allows to have graffiti removed or covered is too long.
While Im against graffiti as much as anyone, Im also sensitive to placing more burdens on small business, Bell said. The very quick removal of graffiti is a must-do, in my opinion. Thats an easy thing to do, given the availability of free paint and supplies as well as community volunteers. However, ordinances that hamper small business, such a policing sales to minors and rearranging stocks and displays is too burdensome, in my mind.
In addition to shortening the time property owners are given to cover graffiti, Marysville is considering having a volunteer group of senior citizens paint over tagging marks as soon as they are found. The Marysville City Council is considering legislation to require business owners to keep spray paint and felt tip markers behind the counter or to ban their sale to minors altogether. The Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce is polling business owners to gauge support for the proposed laws as a citizens advisory committee will meet this week to ponder options. In addition to being unsightly, police have said graffiti is the newspaper of the street for many gangs and the vandalism is how they communicate or mark territory.
Marysville officials say they are just offering more tools for business and property owners, and that some of their suggestions will help stem the inky tide. Police are urging folks to photograph graffiti before they clean it up so officers can determine if it is gang-related or not.
Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall urged calm.
Were going to work it. We had no intention of just throwing out an ordinance, Kendall said. We definitely have to shorten the timeline.
Were flexible, but we want to show them that we are out there and we just want this to stop.