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Commissioner Rubio Passes Ordinance to Expedite Graffiti Removal

News Article

Portland City Council unanimously passed an ordinance today to expedite the removal of graffiti from private property.

The code change was introduced by City Commissioner Carmen Rubio, who oversees the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s (BPS) Graffiti Abatement Program, which works to address graffiti complaints. More than 500,000 square feet of graffiti has been removed since BPS took over the program in October 2022.

“I don’t need to tell Portlanders that the amount of graffiti throughout our city has increased exponentially over the past few years – they can see it with their own eyes,” Rubio said. “I am committed to addressing this problem because I share in the love and pride for Portland with all who live here and visit our wonderful city.”

Many property owners, particularly those from out of state or who own vacant buildings, are not meeting the City Code requirement to remove graffiti from their properties within 10 days, even after multiple warning letters.

The only enforcement procedure within the current graffiti code requires the City to get an administrative warrant, hire and pay a contractor to paint over the graffiti, and then place a lien on the property to recoup these costs, with an additional administrative fee. This process involves a substantial financial investment without knowing when or whether the funds will be repaid, and it limits the City’s ability to promote accountability for graffiti removal.

Under the code change passed today, the City will instead use an internal process through its Hearings Officer for the most egregious property owners. The Graffiti Abatement Program proposed the solution in response to overwhelming feedback from community and business organizations, neighborhood associations, and community members.

Under current funding levels:

  • Contractors have addressed 11,500 graffiti service requests
  • Property owners have responded to more than 1,000 requests for graffiti removal
  • More than 2,500 graffiti service requests have been referred to other jurisdictions
  • The Graffiti Abatement Program has distributed 167 graffiti-removal kits
  • Numerous small businesses and nonprofits have been supported with graffiti removal through the Graffiti Removal Assistance program

“In the next budget I will prioritize continued funding for this cleanup work at the level the problem demands,” Rubio said. “I encourage Portlanders to keep the reports coming in, especially related to any hate speech, so that we can set priorities and respond accordingly.”


Jimmy Radosta

Communications Director for Commissioner Carmen Rubio