PROVO — After being hashed and rehashed for months, a proposed ordinance that would give the city an edge in the war on graffiti is headed for possible approval in September.

The Provo City Council unanimously voted to put an ordinance on the council's Sept. 2 agenda. If approved, the measure would authorize the city to remove graffiti within 48 hours after the graffiti is reported to police.

The council has discussed and mulled over the language of the ordinance for several months. Of particular concern to some council members is the clause that forbids possession of graffiti implements — including spray paint canisters, broad tip markers, paint sticks, chalk, ink or dye — in public recreation facilities or near bridges and underpasses. In one study session, Councilman Steve Turley held up a pen and said that it could be considered a graffiti implement.

Neil Lindberg, attorney for the council, said the ordinance's language could be altered to target people bent on scrawling graffiti, to avoid punishing anyone who might drive past a school with a bucket of paint in the back of his or her truck.

"If you had a graffiti implement with the intent of making graffiti you're going to have a problem," Lindberg said.

The measure would make the city responsible for graffiti cleanup within 48 hours after it is reported, which creates a difficult situation for the city because property owners can't always be reached to get consent to remove the graffiti, Provo Chief Administrative Officer Wayne Parker said. Officials hope the goal can be achieved about 95 percent of the time. Parker recommended a "blanket" consent form be created to allow property owners to grant their permission for cleanup anytime graffiti is reported on their property within a year.

The proposed ordinance also requires business that sell spray paint containers or broad tip markers to post a sign stating, "Graffiti is against the law. Any person who defaces real or personal property with paint or other liquid or device is guilty of a crime punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 6 months."

Before voting to send the ordinance to an upcoming council meeting, Turley noted the city's efforts to abate graffiti have been effective thus far this year, pointing to news reports that Provo police recently busted seven boys — ages 12 to 17 — who are suspected of being connected to more than 77 cases of graffiti.

Turley also said police reports indicate graffiti is on the decline, 53 percent less than what it was last year.

"That's pretty significant," he said.

Councilwoman Cindy Richards said the proposed ordinance would discourage would-be graffiti artists and taggers because their work wouldn't be on display long enough for people to see.

"Perpetrators see there are quick and early consequences," she said.

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