Targeting gang tags: MB considers new graffiti ordinance

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Lawmakers are considering new ways to clear the city of graffiti, targeting gang-related tags.

During Tuesday's Myrtle Beach City Council Workshop, members of the council discussed amending a current ordinance to allow the city to take immediate action to clear graffiti. If police identify markings as belonging to a gang, this new ordinance could allow the city to immediate get rid of them.

The ordinance outlines the city's objections to graffiti, stating the mere existence of graffiti is a public nuisance. That the appearance is immediately destructive of the rights and values of property owners.

It continues to state that graffiti creates a sense of disorder and unease among visitors and citizens. In some cases, the ordinance writes, it marks the beginning of an effort to establish territorial boundaries for those who would harm the entire community.

The Myrtle Beach Police Department has a Gang Enforcement Unit, or GEU. According to MBPD, the GEU has had significant graffiti sprayed in the area over the years.

Recently, multiple taggings were put up overnight in the area near the Train Depot. The MBPD believes there are isolated incidents where tagging are put up but are not gang-related.

GEU has an approach where graffiti is "reported, recorded, and then removed."

This method is to prevent any rival gang from spraying over what has been put up and repeating the cycle.

In an incident that occurred a few years ago, dozens of markings related to the Bloods were sprayed and successfully removed in a three day period from sidewalks, light poles, and street signs.

However, there was a delay in clearing the marks from private property. The MBPD believes this new ordinance will help to alleviate the delay.

The proposed ordinance will give property owners 48 hours to remove graffiti. After that time period, the city is authorized to enter the property to remove the graffiti at the owner's cost.

If the city determines that any graffiti is a danger to the public and cannot provide a courtesy notice to the property owner, then the city may post the property, enter and remove the graffiti at its expense.

The city, under this proposed ordinance, will not be required to restore an area previously obscured by graffiti to its original condition.

The ordinance will have to pass a second reading before going into effect.

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