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City Council Gets Tougher On Graffiti

East Oregonian | March 26, 2013 10:56 a.m. | Updated: March 26, 2013 5:56 p.m.

Contributed By:

NATALIE WHEELER East Oregonian

Hermiston city council approved $800,000 in additional expenditures Monday and approved stricter ordinances regarding the removal of graffiti on private property.

The ordinances require property owners to bear the burden of private graffiti removal. They also prohibit the sale and possession of graffiti instruments to minors. The new laws will not take effect until Apr. 26.

In an effort to remove graffiti more efficiently, property owners will be given seven days remove the graffiti once the police department “tags” a property that has graffiti. The removal requirement also applies to other nuisances, such as weeds taller than 15 inches.

If a week goes by with no changes, the city will remove the graffiti itself and charge the owner for the cost plus 10 percent overhead fees. The city is on the lookout for a contractor to remove graffiti.

If the owner does not pay for the contractor within 60 days, a lien will be placed on the property.

A new inclusion to the ordinance is a hardship clause for property owners, which gives a 50 percent reduction in removal costs to households below the federal poverty line.

The second graffiti ordinance makes the sale, transfer and possession of graffiti instruments, such as spray paint and felt tips marker wider than a quarter inch, illegal to anyone under 18 years old.

Supplemental Budget

In other action, the council unanimously approved a supplemental 2012-2013 budget included projects such as the $350,000 contribution to the Pioneer Dupont expansion, $100,000 Kennison field contribution and $50,000 conference center roof replacement.

The city, which must have the revenue available in order to approve the supplemental budget, should end the year with an estimated $3.5-$4 million.

Councilor Doug Primmer abstained from voting on the supplemental budget out of caution regarding a possible conflict of interest in additional police department funds. Primmer’s wife is a police department employee.

City attorney Gary Luisi advised Primmer before the meeting that his vote was not a conflict of interest. After push back from councilor George Anderson, however, Primmer abstained.

“I always viewed your staying on the city council with your wife as an employee of the police department as a substantial conflict of interest,” Anderson said. “I understand that’s Gary Luisi’s opinion but that’s not the opinion of the Oregon Ethics Commission.”

City council also approved a measure to create a three-member mobile vendor regulation committee, pending mayor Dave Drotzmann’s appointments. After stepping into the murky waters of mobile vendor regulation, Drotzmann, who was absent from the meeting, said the proposed regulations needed more scrutiny.

The committee will start from scratch to sort out the specifics of vendor regulations including where, and for how long a mobile businesses can set up camp. Currently the city has no laws regarding mobile vendors.

Councilor Rod Hardin officiated the council meeting in Drotzmann’s absence.

Contact Natalie Wheeler at nwheeler@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.

This story originally appeared in East Oregonian.

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