While local businesses, homeowners, and even some officials are confused about the details of the new city graffiti law, Mayor Bloomberg’s office says that the new law does not involve any fine whatsoever for the city to come clean graffiti.
“There never was any fine,” says a representative from the Mayor’s office. “At least, not for cleaning the graffiti.” The fine that locals remember incurring was a punishment for not sending back a waiver within 35 days. Under the old system, when graffiti was reported on a building, whether by the building owner, a citizen, or a city agent, the landlord or business owner had 35 days to send back a waiver that indicated one of three choices. “You could clean it up yourself, choose not to have it removed at all, or have the city remove it for you, for free, but you had to send back that waiver telling them of your choice,” says the Mayor’s staffer.
What’s new about the latest law is the elimination of required paperwork, and therefore, also of the fine that would come with not returning the waiver quickly enough.
Under the new law, the city, after being notified about graffiti, will still send out notification to a property owner. That person will still have 35 days to let the city know whether they plan to clean the graffiti on their own or have the city come remove it. The key is that after 35 days, whether or not the paperwork has been returned, the city will come clean it for free.
Naturally, it seems unlikely anyone will be sending paperwork back to the city just to tell them to come clean the graffiti, since the city will send its Anti-graffiti Task Force to clean it up either way, once the waiting period has elapsed.
The new letter that gets sent out, as opposed to the old, also sounds more confident in its language. In the old letter, property owners were told that the city would “attempt to remove graffiti.” The letter that will now be sent declares that the city will “remove the graffi from your property.”
Property owners can also give the city blanket permission to clean graffiti whenever it appears by filling out a “Forever Graffiti Free” form.
Now that Bronxites will be relieved of their fee fears, many say the next step should be stricter penalties for the vandals that do the graffiti. That, of course, will take more time and work.