City Attorney News

The Winston-Salem City Council will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, June 7, to collect public opinion on alternative approaches to fighting graffiti: By prohibiting minors from possessing spray paint in designated areas, or by prohibiting the sale of spray paint to minors who are not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

The proposals are drafted as amendments to the graffiti ordinance the city adopted in 2008. The City Council could consider adopting one, the other, or both amendments.

Under one proposed amendment, "It shall be unlawful for a minor to possess spray paint while in or upon any public facility, park, playground, swimming pool, recreational facility, or other public building or structure owned or operated by the city or while in or within fifty (50) feet of an underpass, bridge abutment, storm drain, or similar types of infrastructure under circumstances manifesting the intent to violate any provision of this section, unless otherwise authorized by the city.

"Circumstances manifesting the intent of a minor to violate this section include, but are not limited to:

  1. The possession, in plain view, of spray paint by a minor in one or more of the designated public places; or
  2. A positive identification of a minor by a witness to the application of spray paint upon a prohibited surface in one or more of the aforementioned designated public places; or
  3. Coverage of a minor’s hands with spray paint while the minor is in one or more of the designated public places."

The ordinance defines a minor as someone between the ages of 11 and 18.

An alternate amendment states, "No person shall sell or otherwise transfer any spray paint to a minor unless the minor is accompanied by a parent or legal guardian at the time of purchase or transfer." Stores would be required to post a sign about the prohibition.

With either amendment, violations would be a misdemeanor and carry a fine of up to $500.

The proposed amendments are based on similar ordinances in other jurisdictions, including Statesville; Chicago Heights, Ill.; and Los Angeles County, Calif.

The full text of the proposed amendments is posted online.


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