Committee advances graffiti law, but without age restriction

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Indianapolis leaders are moving forward with a plan to wipe out graffiti around the city without a controversial requirement that would limit who can buy spray paint.

Graffiti is an eyesore the city wants to clean up, but how to do it has been a point of discussion. The council proposed, earlier this summer, a fine for businesses or property owners if they didn't clean up graffiti. But that didn't go over well, so now they've amended the ordinance to make exceptions.

"The only way people are going to be fined for graffiti is if they ignore the notice," said Councillor Zach Adamson (D). "The only way they get a fee is if they do nothing."

The City-County Council's Rules and Public Policy Committee changed some of the wording to the proposed graffiti law Tuesday night.

The committee hopes to come up with a deal with Keep Indy Beautiful to pay for paint to help clean-up unwanted graffiti if homeowners can't afford it. The law would also make property owners responsible for removing graffiti - not renters - and owners can request additional time to remove the graffiti.

Sponsors of the law say they'll really be going after absentee landlords.

The committee decided to hold off on a ban on the sale of spray paint to anyone under the age of 18.

"I think a large portion of graffiti is done by minors," said Adamson. "So if we, to some degree, cut off access, I think we'll see a reduction by default just by lack of access."

Major cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York already prohibit the sale of spray paint to minors.

Businesses say they have no problem checking ID and not selling to customers under 18.

The new law would not take effect until spring. The full council will likely vote on the graffiti law at its next meeting.