AMARILLO- Amarillo's city ordinance meant to crack down on graffiti and vandalism is just days away from going into effect.
It's a picture perfect plan for city commissioners who voted 5-0 April 24 to implement new polices aimed at deterring graffiti.
"It's not a joke," Mayor Paul Harpole told NewsChannel 10 earlier in the month. "You're a criminal."
That's the message Harpole has stood by since the ordinance went on the agenda earlier this year.
While graffiti is an eyesore for the majority of residents, the city is looking at the bigger picture with declining property values and attraction of new crime.
"We do have some areas that have been notably hit," Corporal Jerry Neufeld with the Amarillo Police Department said. "We've had some landmark buildings tagged in the past 5 to 7 years."
It's a problem that continues to grow but thanks to the new ordinance about to take effect May 18, the city homes they'll now have the upper hand at wiping away graffiti.
"We have city employees right now who do nothing but clean graffiti off our property," said Blair Harris with the City of Amarillo. "We already have experts in the field so we're just going to add additional people to the work force."
Next month, minors will no longer be allowed to possess spray paint.
This runs in conjunction to current state laws prohibiting the sale of aerosol cans to anyone under the age of 18.
According to Amarillo Police, 67 juveniles were arrested and charged for graffiti or criminal mischief last year.
As far as the clean up process is concerned, the city says they'll be coughing up the cash to repair tagged walls.
Business owners will be given the courtesy of responding to a letter granting city employees permission to clean up graffiti free of charge.
If no action is taken by the business owner, the city will still make repairs and then bill the property owner.
Graffiti artwork painted with the owners permission does not apply to this city ordinance.