Graffiti Nuisance Ordinance

The Graffiti Nuisance Ordinance requires property owners to remove graffiti in a timely manner or risk having the property considered a nuisance and dealt with through the four steps below. It was adopted in 1994 to encourage the rapid cleanup of graffiti and to prevent its spread throughout the community. Seattle Public Utilities' (SPU's) Graffiti Prevention Program enforces the ordinance.

How the ordinance is enforced

  1. Once a property has been identified as a potential graffiti nuisance, usually through a call to the Graffiti Report Line, SPU sends an informational letter to the property owner. The letter requests the property owner to remove the graffiti with a reasonable amount of time (10 days after receiving the letter) or be subject to potential fines. The letter includes information about how to remove graffiti and offers resources for free paint.
  2. If the graffiti is not removed within the specified time, the property is declared a graffiti nuisance. The property owner (or responsible party) is served official notice, either personally or by certified mail. The notice must also be posted on the property. The graffiti must be removed within 10 calendar days after receipt of the notice.
  3. If the graffiti is still not removed 10 days after the official notice has been posted, the responsible party is served a notice of civil violation and hearing directing them to appear before the City's Hearing Examiner. The hearing must be held between 10 and 30 calendar days from the date the notice is issued. If the graffiti is removed at least 48 hours prior to the hearing, the hearing will be canceled and no monetary penalty will be assessed.
  4. The Hearing Examiner will assess monetary penalties of up to $100 per day, with a maximum of $5,000, beginning on the correction date (10 calendar days after the receipt of the official notice), or on a subsequent date set by the Hearing Examiner.

Additional resources

City Clerk's Office: Graffiti Nuisance Ordinance (ordinance 118082)


Public Utilities

Andrew Lee, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 4900, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34018, Seattle, WA, 98124-5177
Phone: (206) 684-3000

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Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is comprised of three major direct-service providing utilities: the Water Utility, the Drainage and Wastewater Utility, and the Solid Waste Utility.