TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Wayne R. Bryant which would put greater emphasis on cleaning up graffiti in New Jersey’s municipalities was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 34-4.
“In many of our poorer communities, struggling to rebuild from the ashes of economic ruin, graffiti remains as a testament to the hardships that remain,” said Senator Bryant, D-Camden. “As the author of the Camden Revitalization Act, I know that areas with a high prevalence of graffiti have a tougher time attracting redevelopers and private investors. We all need to do our part, to clean up our cities and put them on the right track to redevelopment and revitalization.”
The bill, S-650, known as the “Municipal Beautification Act,” would allow municipalities to adopt ordinances requiring property owners to remove graffiti on their property. Property owners would have 90 days to comply with an order to clean up their property, or 30 days to object by mail to the order. The bill also stipulates that the New Jersey Department of Transportation would have to comply with orders to remove graffiti from the roadway infrastructure, but due to the increased prevalence of graffiti in underpasses, the Department would have 120 days to comply.
If a property owner does not comply with an order to remove graffiti, the municipality has the authority to remove graffiti and provide the owner with a bill for the services. The legislation also would amend current law to allow funds from the State’s “Clean Communities Fund” to be used for graffiti abatement, and provides exceptions from cleanup orders for murals and artwork done with the permission of the property owner.
“While I understand that some victims of graffiti might feel that they’re being unfairly punished for someone else’s crime, this bill is about getting results in cleaning up our cities,” said Senator Bryant. “We are holding the State to the same standards as private property owners, and under current law, there are already mechanisms in place where someone found guilty of criminal mischief involving graffiti must pay restitution to the property owner. If we all work together, we can clean up our neighborhoods and attract the necessary redevelopment opportunities to let our poorest municipalities pull themselves up from fiscal distress.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.