Businesses cool on plan to copy anti-graffiti code

A Gresham city councilman wants to copy the city of Portland's controversial spray-paint ordinance in an effort to fight graffiti.

Portland passed an ordinance in November that forces paint and art supply stores to lock up spray paint, paint pens and other supplies to prevent shoplifting by graffiti culprits. It also requires businesses to check customer photo identification prior to sales; fines range up to $25,000.

Councilor David Widmark wants to prevent would-be graffiti criminals from simply coming to Gresham for their supplies.

'When you have adjoining jurisdictions coming up with benefiting laws that help each other, I think it's important to carry continuity between jurisdictions,' Widmark said.

Cornelius is the only other city in the area that requires securing spray-paint supplies. Many of Portland's paint and art supply stores expressed disapproval of the new law, saying it won't help.

'I really don't know how well this would help,' said Paul Baher, store manager of Miller Paint Co., on Powell in Gresham. 'It's going to slow business down a lot. In the summer our store gets really, really busy.'

Baher said spray paint is a small portion of their sales, and it's big box stores - Target, Fred Meyer, Kmart and others - that are more apt to attract graffiti shoplifters.

'We haven't been hit with shoplifters because most of our clientele are contractors and adult homeowners,' Baher said. 'Where with some of these box stores, you get more of the teen crowd that wants to go through those stores.'

Store managers at Kmart and Fred Meyer in Gresham would not comment.

Graffiti is a major problem in Gresham. Property owners are continuous victims of graffiti and 'tagging' - the spray-painting of gang symbols. Spencer Rogers, a manager of a professional building on Stark Street in Gresham that's been hit with graffiti several times, is torn on the issue.

'It's a toss-up for me because I use the paint, and it's kind of an inconvenience when I have to go into Portland,' Rogers said. 'And I wonder how it's going to curb the graffiti issue.'

The building he manages has been spray-painted five times in the past two weeks, costing about $800 to remove it.

'I've toyed with the idea of putting up surveillance,' Rogers said. 'But to put in a $2,000 system, is it going to curb it, and will it cover the entire building?'

The city passed an ordinance back in November 2006 that requires property owners or occupants to remove graffiti within 10 days. And last spring, the city created a volunteer graffiti removal program. The city also provides graffiti removal kits for residents or business owners.

Widmark is planning to present his plan to council members at an upcoming roundtable discussion in April. If he gets support, the council will move to copy Portland's ordinance as closely as possible.

Call and report graffiti

To report graffiti,

residents can call

503-618-3089 or go to and report it under Make a Request.

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