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Graffiti Removal Program

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To report graffiti vandalism in progress, please call 911

To report graffiti, please call 1-415-899-8280 or e-mail public works .

Graffiti painted by vandals or gang-related, is blight on our City and has a negative impact on our neighborhoods and businesses. Studies show that it is very important to clean up graffiti as soon as possible. It has been proven that constant, prompt removal will eventually convince the vandals not to repaint a site.

We need your help! Please help keep Novato clean and beautiful by reporting graffiti as soon as you see it or removing it promptly if it is on your property.

When graffiti is reported, a City maintenance worker will visit the site within 48 hours to photograph the graffiti and determine whether the graffiti is on public or private property.

Graffiti on City Property - Public Works staff will remove graffiti on City property, within 24-48 hours of a report being received. We will report graffiti painted on other public property to the appropriate agency or public utility in order to get graffiti removed as quickly as possible.

Graffiti on Private Property - Graffiti reported that is not on public property will be reported to the property owner or tenant. Private property owners are responsible for removing graffiti on their property. The City‘s Graffiti ordinance requires property owners to remove graffiti within 48 hours if it is gang-related and 10 days if it is general graffiti. City staff will work cooperatively with property owners including assistance by City volunteers in order to remove the graffiti as quickly as possible. If a property owner is not cooperative, the City does have the ability to issue administrative citations (like a fix-it ticket) in order to create an incentive.

Graffiti outside the City limits - in unincorporated Marin County, is handled by the Marin County Public Works Department. Please call 499-6530.

Graffiti on the Freeway- signs, sound walls or freeway overpasses (US 101 or Highway 37) is handled by CalTrans District 4 at or call 510-286-4444.

Graffiti Prevention: Tips for Businesses (and residents)

How does graffiti "hurt"?

Graffiti contributes to reduced retail sales, a decline in property values, and community fear. A business littered with graffiti is less likely to be patronized. The community feels less safe and secure entering a storefront when graffiti is present.

How can a business prevent graffiti?

1. Ongoing upkeep

Business owners need to make every effort to keep the appearance of a facility clean and neat. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, an exterior appearance that suggests apathy and neglect attracts vandals. Littered parking lots, graffiti, broken fences, overgrown landscaping, and poor lighting all send a message to vandals that business owners are not attentive or do not care about the business.

2. Rapid removal

Rapid and continual removal of graffiti is the best way for businesses and commercial property owners to protect the image of their street and preserve customers' sense of security. Studies show that removal within 24 to 48 hours results in a nearly zero rate of reoccurrence.

3. Control access

• Incorporate shrubs, thorny plants, and vines to restrict vandal access.

• Add or improve lighting around the building to promote natural surveillance.

• Use fences, controlled entrance and exits, rails, and other barriers that discourage through traffic.

• Limit access to roofs by moving dumpsters away from walls and covering drainpipes to prevent vandals from scaling them.

4. Step up security

• Install some type of security camera.

• Organize a "Business Watch" with nearby merchants to keep tabs on a business area. Businesses may want to employ security personnel to monitor property.

• Do not allow a "legal wall" or an area that permits graffiti, at your business; these are largely ineffective and may draw more graffiti vandals to the area.

• Use graffiti resistant materials or coatings on a chronically hit wall.

5. Work with the community

• Mount a community mural on a chronically hit wall at a central location

• Print graffiti prevention messages on bags, sales flyers, tray liners, book covers, calendars, and other promotional items.

• Work with other merchants to organize and contribute to a "paint bank." Paints, rollers, brushes, and other equipment from the bank are "borrowed" as needed. Ensure safe and environmentally appropriate storage of paint. Consider a fire station or corporation yard to house the paint bank.

• Refrain from using graffiti images in ads or promoting graffiti in any way.

How a local Graffiti ordinance can affect Businesses

Local graffiti ordinances vary, but usually dictate how quickly graffiti must be removed and who is responsible for removal (as in the case in Novato)

Usually private businesses are responsible for removing graffiti on their property.

Graffiti removal by someone other than the business owner usually requires permission from the owner/agent. Find out how graffiti removal on private property is handled in your community. Get a copy of any local graffiti ordinance.

What a Property Owner (business or residential) should do if hit  with Graffiti

1. Report. Contact Public Works in Novato to report graffiti vandalism  1-415-899-8280 or e-mail If a police report is required for insurance purposes, complete a Vandalism/Graffiti report online.

2. Identify. Work with the City to identify if the graffiti is being done by taggers or gangs. Check with law enforcement about safety concerns when removing gang graffiti.

3. Document. Take a picture of the graffiti before it is removed. Photographs will assist law enforcement in their investigation.

4. Remove. Remove graffiti promptly and completely.

How should graffiti be removed?

To select the appropriate method for graffiti removal, consider the surface, access, costs, and any local restrictions. Removal methods may include:

Paint out — on painted surfaces, painting over graffiti is a low-cost removal method. Be sure to color match the paint to the surface. A patchwork of paint or a large block of different color paint is an ideal canvas and will invite more graffiti.

Chemical removal — this method employs some type of solvent to remove graffiti.

Power washing — this removes graffiti by applying water, usually hot, under pressure. Power washing may also be used after applying a paint solvent to the graffiti area. An abrasive, such as baking soda or fine sand, may also be added to the water to remove a thin layer of the surface, and with it, the graffiti.

Consider pooling resources with other merchants and together contract with a company that specializes in graffiti removal. This will encourage quick and appropriate removal.


- For community-based graffiti prevention resources, tap in to Graffiti Hurts at www.araffitihurts.orq, or find a local Keep America Beautiful affiliate at www.kab.ora.

- To prevent theft and illegal purchase of graffiti tools through responsible retailing, visit the National Council to Prevent Delinquency at www.antigraffiti.orq.

Care for your community

Adapted from Graffiti Hurts and Keep America Beautiful, Inc., 2003.
1010 Washington Blvd., Stamford, CT 06901

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