South Portland Anti-Graffiti Ordinance


Sec. 17-50.  Purpose and Findings.

      The purpose of this Section is to prevent the spread of graffiti in the City through measures reasonably calculated to deter graffiti and to encourage and facilitate rapid removal when it occurs.

      The City Council makes the following finds in enacting this Section:

(1)      Graffiti is a form of vandalism defacing public and private property without the consent of the owner;

(2)      Graffiti creates visual pollution and blight that adversely affects the enjoyment and value of public and private property and causes citizens, businesses and the City to incur the cost of removal and repair;

(3)                  Graffiti is a visual symbol of disorder and lawlessness.  In contributes to a downward spiral of blight and decay, decreasing property values, lessening business viability and potentially adversely affecting tax revenues; and

(4)      There is substantial evidence that rapid removal of graffiti is an effective prevention strategy that discourages its return.  In addition, there is substantial evidence that failure to promptly remove graffiti increases the likelihood that more graffiti will occur on the same site and on other nearby property.


(Ord. No. 7-07/08, 2/20/08; [Fiscal Note: Less than $1000])


Sec.17-51.  Definitions.

“Aerosol Paint container” means any container that is adapted or made for the purpose of applying aerosolized paint, or any other aerosolized substance capable of defacing property.

      “Broad Tipped Marker” means any marker or similar implement that contains ink and has a flat or angled writing surface that, at its broadest width, exceeds one-eight inch. 

“Etching Cream” any caustic cream, gel, liquid, or solution capable, by means of a chemical action, of defacing, damaging, or destroying hard surfaces in a manner similar to acid.

“Graffiti” means any inscription, word, figure, design, painting, writing, drawing or carving that is marked, etched, scratched, drawn, painted or otherwise applied to property without the prior authorization of the owner of the property regardless of the content or nature of the material used.

“Graffiti implement” means an aerosol paint container, a broad-tipped marker, gummed label, paint stick or graffiti stick.

“Minor” means a person under the age of eighteen.

“Owner” means the person listed on the Assessor’s records for the City of South Portland as the owner of property.

“Paint Stick or Graffiti Stick” means any device containing a solid or liquid form of paint, chalk, wax, epoxy, or other similar substance that leaves a visible mark upon application to a surface.

“Property” means any real or personal property, including but not limited to any portion of any premises, structure, house, building, fence or vehicle.

(Ord. No. 7-07/08, 2/20/08; [Fiscal Note: Less than $1000])

Sec. 17-52.  Prohibited acts.

The following acts are prohibited:

(a)            Applying graffiti to any private or public property without the permission of the owner;

(b)            Soliciting or commanding another person to apply graffiti to any private or public property without the permission of the owner; or

(c)            Aiding or abetting or agreeing to aid or abet another person in planning to apply or applying graffiti to any private or public property without the permission of the owner.

Sec. 17-53.  Prohibited possession of graffiti implements.

(a)            No person shall possess any graffiti implement under circumstances presumed to evidence an intent to violate the provisions of Section 17-52.  A person is presumed to possess the Graffiti implement with an intent to if he or she possesses any Graffiti implement;

(i)            In or on any part of a publicly-owned or privately-owned building, facility, park, walkway or trail, school ground, library, playground, swimming pool, recreational facility, right-of-way; or

(ii)        Within fifty (50) feet of any underpass, overpass, bridge abutment, storm drain, or similar type of infrastructure.

(b)   It is a defense to enforce action under Subsection (a) of this Section that the Graffiti implement was:

(i)            possessed on the property with consent of the Owner; or

(ii)        possessed in a place where the implement was going to be used for a non-graffiti activity, including but not limited to an employment, school, home, church, art, or similar activity or possessed while enroute to or from such activity.

(Ord. No 7-07/08, 2/20/08; [Fiscal Note: Less than $1000])

Sec. 17-54.  Furnishing graffiti implements to minors prohibited.                

      No person, other than a parent or legal guardian, may sell, exchange, give, lend, or otherwise furnish, or cause or permit to be exchanged, given, loaned, or otherwise furnished, any of the following graffiti implements to any person under the age of eighteen (18) years without the written permission of the parent(s) or guardian of the minor aerosol paint container(s), graffiti stick(s), paint stick(s) or etching cream.

(Ord. No. 7-07/08, 2/20/08 [Fiscal Note: Less than $1000])

Sec. 17-55.  Rapid removal of graffiti.                  

Whenever the City Manager, or his or her designee, determines that graffiti is located on public or private property such that graffiti may be viewed by a person using any public right-of-way or other public property, the City Manager shall provide written notice to the Owner of said property that it is the policy of the City that Graffiti be removed from public or private property within 48 hours of receipt of such notice unless a correction plan otherwise is approved.  The notice shall further state that if the property owner does not abate the Graffiti within ten (10) business days after notice, the City will proceed with nuisance enforcement according to Code of Ordinances Section 16-4 regarding declaration and abatement of nuisances.

(Ord. No. 7-07/08, 2/20/08; [Fiscal Note: Less than $1000])     

Sec. 17-56.  Penalties.

(a)   Any person violating Section 17-52 shall:

(i)            Pay a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500) per violation;

(ii)        Reimburse the property Owner for all costs reasonably incurred by the property Owner that are directly related to removal of the Graffiti; and

(iii)    Perform twenty-five (25) hours of community service.

(b)   Every parent or legal guardian having custody or control of a Minor who violates Section 17-52 shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for the penalties set forth in Section 17-56 (a)(i) and (ii).  For the purposes of this section, each act and each property is a separate violation.

(c)   Any person violating Section 17-53 shall pay a fine of two hundred fifty dollars ($250) for the first violation and up to five hundred dollars ($500) for subsequent violations and/or perform up to twenty-five (25) hours of community service.

(Ord. No. 7-07/08, 2/20/08 [Fiscal Note: Less than $1000]) 

Sec. 17-57.  Severability.                   

If any section, phrase, sentence or portion of this Article is for any reason held invalid or unconstitutional by any court of competent jurisdiction, such portion shall be deemed a separate, distinct and independent provision, and such holding shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions thereof. 

(Ord. No. 7-07/08, 2/20/08; [Fiscal Note: Less than $1000])