Burlington City Council passes new graffiti ordinance

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BURLINGTON, N.C. - The city of Burlington is trying to clean up their graffiti mess. Tuesday night the city council voted to pass a new graffiti ordinance. The new rules say if your property, business or home is vandalized you have 10 days to clean it.

“It stays on the buildings a long period of time before it’s ever cleaned up and you know we want to live in a nice environment, don’t want to look at it every day,” explains Alan Stewart, who lives in Burlington.

Burlington’s Police Chief Jeffrey Smythe says the problem goes beyond the paint. Graffiti is a public safety issue because a lot of times they’re dealing with gangs.

“That’s going to lead to a gang fight and unfortunately they bring guns and knives and they don’t discriminate when they shoot at each other and other people get hurt,” said Chief Smythe.

Officials did recently arrest a group of teens who they believe are behind at least 30 incidents.

“It’s everywhere buildings, train stations anything that’s around that’s posted to the ground it’s on it,” said Stewart.

Under the new ordinance if a property or business owner doesn’t clean up the graffiti in the 10 day period the city will do the job and send them the bill.


  • American Citizen

    Well… that’s just plain W-R-O-N-G !!! Is the city going to send Norfolk-Southern Railway a bill for cleaning up their trains that we have to look at? I think NOT. Chances are the city has a right of way on anything that might be vandalized anyway… so why is it OUR resposibility to clean something they claim is “theirs”. Chances are the fine for vandalizing a property is less than the cleanup cost… THAT’S the real problem. How can they vote something like this through? I say hand the city council members a scrub brush and tell them to start earning their salaries for a change!

  • John

    It seems like the ordinance is unfairly punishing small business owners for the graffiti problem.
    How about the city buying 2-3 gas powered high pressure power washers and letting business owners use them to clean up the graffiti. (about $400.00 each or $1200.00).
    How about putting cameras up in areas where it is problem, and catching those who are responsible for it, then making them clean it up.
    The cameras with motion detection that are used by hunters are inexpensive and the city could buy about 20 for less than $100.00 each. ($2000.00) total. They could be put up and taken down and than moved to other areas.
    These seem like reasonable solutions that the city could do to address the problem with graffiti, rather than passing an ordinance that will do nothing.

    A resident of Burlington

  • chucky1992

    I’d have to agree with John in some respects. How much expense and responsibility should be placed on property owners if the thugs can’t be caught? The people who tag these properties should be identified and forced to clean it up at their expense. I know that some symbols can be tied to specific gangs so make that gang clean it up or face civil fines.

  • Mike Holland

    Burlington is a lovely place. Our police Chief, in the past, has been shown to be tolerant, understanding and concerned about our health over just following the rules. I’m sure the new Chief will continue down that path.

    However, just addressing the symptoms is insufficient. Cleaning the paint off is like treating cancer vs. trying to prevent it. Many large cities have been thru this same situation and we have plenty of models to study that can be applied here. Is it truly successful to make our people feel a financial pain in order to prevent this activity? Is there no way to constructively direct this activity?

    My suggestion is to offer a award for the most attractive public art, but provide specified public locations for the art to be viewed, to move the “problem” away from private property, where it’s a crime.

    Once you have our community of young artists trained to participate in specific locations you’ll be able to meet them, talk with them and help guide them to put that amazing about of creative energy to purposes that help our community, such as designing the mural that Burlington is currently planning for the back side of the Coop building row.

    Please don’t see this as a problem. People pay good money to paint building walls.. the paint preserves the wood. Kids bring free paint to your wall and paint it for you… The only problem is the color and shape of the paint… think creatively and you can capture this potential resource… the public actually buying paint and painting your wall… the challenge is up to you to be more creative than them and avoid becoming simply reactionary.

    Good luck Burlington.

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