Waco council votes in favor in graffiti ordinance, names new Mayor Pro Tem following resignation

Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 8:50 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The Waco City Council Tuesday night voted unanimously in favor of, on the first reading, adding graffiti to its “nuisance” ordinance.

Declaring graffiti a nuisance by amending the ordinance (Chapter 16) will provide a means for graffiti enforcement and abatement, according to city documents.

“Graffiti is a pet peeve of mine,” said Mayor Dillon Meek. “I think that this is going to be a tool that we’ll be able to utilize to make sure that Waco is a very pristine city.”

The city’s code enforcement department was behind the proposal to add a “Graffiti Prohibition” article to the nuisance ordinance.

The article defines ‘graffiti’ as: any marking, including but not limited to, any inscription, slogan, drawing, painting, symbol, logo, name, character, or figure, that is made in any manner on tangible property without the effective consent of the owner.

State law allows cities (by ordinance) to require property owners to remove graffiti from the owner’s property. However, the city must offer to abate the graffiti for free and provide notice to the owner of their duty to remove graffiti.

Property owners have about two weeks (15 days), after receiving notice from the city, to remove the graffiti, according to the ordinance.

If the property owner fails to remove the graffiti after receiving the notice and refuses the free abatement offer, the city may remove the graffiti and charge the expenses of removal to the property owner, according to city documents.

Property owners who violate the ordinance can also be taken to court for prosecution and receive a Class C misdemeanor with a fine of up to $2,000 and have a lien for all costs incurred, according to the ordinance.

The City of Waco has conducted about 48 cases of graffiti abatement with owners’ consent over the past year, city officials said.

The city currently does not have an ordinance addressing graffiti.

The amended ordinance will be brought back before the council for a second reading for final approval.

This was also the last meeting for District IV councilwoman Kelly Palmer who resigned last week.

Palmer, who has represented District IV since Nov. 2020, became emotional in her farewell remarks.

“This has been a hell of a ride, but the privilege of a lifetime,” Palmer said.

Palmer was also serving as Mayor Pro Tem for the city.

District III councilman, Josh Borderud, who was sworn-in on the same day as Palmer, will now take over that role.

“You brought a fresh voice to the council that was needed,” said Borderud to Palmer.

Along with serving her district, Mayor Meek says Palmer will be remembered for her advocating for the care and wellbeing of city staff.

“You served with dignity and grace and passion, every step of the way,” said Meek.