Cleaning up graffiti on private property in Hermiston is now the responsibility of the property owners, a frustrating but understandable solution to an unfair problem.

No one likes being a victim to graffiti. We feel violated and angry when forced to clean egg yolk off fresh paint, or pick toilet paper out of trees, or reattach a knocked-off mailbox. Yet what other options are there?

For a while, Hermiston public works crews would come out and scrub paint and marker off fences and homes and businesses, but that will happen no longer. Using public crews on private property is a dangerous precedent and a liability. What happens when that crew, trying their darndest to clean a brick wall, causes structural damage??Taxpayers — the community — foots the bill.

About 70 times a year graffiti appeared in Hermiston, and battling against it became a full-time endeavor for the public works department. They were losing time they would rather spend on all the things they have to do.

Now, we don’t agree with all parts of the city’s wide-ranging and Quixotic attempts to stop graffiti, including an ordinance to prohibit the sale of graffiti instruments to minors. According to city council, local businesses would not be able to sell items such as aerosol spray containers, etching tools or felt-tip pens larger than a quarter inch.

That is unenforceable and unhelpful. We find it hard to believe that any business is going to deny a young person trying to buy a thick pen. And those insistent on leaving their mark on a building are not so easily deterred. There are, believe it or not, stores outside of Hermiston that sell their permanent markers willy-nilly.

In the big picture, though, we agree with the decision to put the onus on property owners to take steps both not be easy targets for graffiti and quickly remove it when it does occur.

Hopefully, the city will now be able to concentrate on its end of the bargain:?stopping graffiti before it appears. Identifying and arresting those responsible for the acts. Prosecuting them, and thus showing that vandalism will not be tolerated in Hemiston.

With both the public and private sectors holding up their end of the bargain, graffiti will become just the occasional annoyance and blot it is everywhere else in the world.

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