The Lynnwood City Council was split on an ordinance that would require citizens to remove graffiti on their property or be fined.
The ordinance required a majority vote of the Council to pass. At last night’s meeting, three councilmembers voted yes and three voted no. The seventh vote would have come from Stephanie Wright, who left the City Council last month to serve on the Snohomish County Council.
Under the ordinance, property owners could be fined if they failed to remove graffiti within five business days. A first offense would be $50, a second would be $100 and each subsequent offense would be $250. (Those fines were lowered from the original ordinance.)
Councilmember Kerri Lonergan said the measure unfairly penalizes crime victims. “I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect the victim to get out and get rid of graffiti in a five-day time frame,” she said before the vote. “There is an approach that’s currently working. The police force is doing an excellent job with graffiti. I’ve noticed that within in the past couple of years the frequency of graffiti in Lynnwood has dropped dramatically.”
Councilmember Jim Smith agreed. “It just isn’t fair to start victimizing those that have been preyed upon by these hoodlums that are doing this. It’s an intrusion of private property rights as far as I’m concerned.”
Councilmember Kimberly Cole spoke in favor of the ordinance. “As a property owner right off of Highway 99, we have graffiti that occurs quite often… and it is something that we take care of ourselves. Much like if a neighborhood child were to toss a rock through my window, I think that I would have to take responsibility for making sure that got fixed.”
Council President Ted Hikel argued, “I look at this as an opportunity for us to call on our citizens to participate in the upkeep of our city. I think it’s a reasonable ordinance as long as it’s applied reasonably.”
Councilmembers Ted Hikel, Mark Smith and Kimberly Cole voted in favor of the ordinance. Councilmembers Kerri Lonergan, Loren Simmons and Jim Smith voted against it.