Property owners are now required to remove graffiti within 48 hours. The City will no longer provide free unlimited graffiti removal for private property owners. The City will continue to remove graffiti from public property including parks, bridges, street signs and other public structures and buildings.

Failure to remove graffiti within 48 hours, after three incidents, shall result in a citation including fines and cost recovery that includes staff time for graffiti removal and enforcement.

  1. After three incidents (City removed graffiti) = $100 Fine + cost recovery
  2. After four incidents (City removed graffiti) = $200 Fine + cost recovery
  3. After five incidents (City removed graffiti) = $500 Fine + cost recovery

Property owners are required to use paint or other method that matches the original color of the surface upon which the graffiti was placed.

The fastest way to remove graffiti is to keep paint and brushes on hand. Business owners should instruct maintenance staff, store managers, tenants and custodians to check for graffiti each morning and remove it immediately.

City staff will supply paint, brushes and training for homeowners, tenants and business owners upon request. Call Customer Service at 768-3133 for assistance.

As the property owner you are responsible to ensure that the graffiti is removed within 48 hours. If your property is part of a Home Owners’ Association, it is your responsibility to contact the Home Owners’ Association to have the graffiti removed within 48 hours. If the graffiti is not removed within 48 hours of you receiving this notice you as the property owner will be subject to the enforcement provisions provided for in the graffiti removal ordinance including any fees, charges and penalties. These charges will be placed on your property taxes.


There are many ways you can help prevent graffiti:

  1. Report suspicious activity to the Police Department. Call 911 to report a crime in progress or for non-emergency assistance call 471-1151.
  2. If you see graffiti in your neighborhood, call the City’s Customer Service Hotline at 768-3133 and leave a message with location of the graffiti.
  3. Plant vines or other landscaping along walls and fences. A vine that works well is Ficus Pumila (Creeping Fig). Other good choices of plants are cactus, roses and California blackberry.
  4. Install motion-activated lights around your building.
  5. Form a Neighborhood Watch group. You can call the Parks & Community Services’ Neighborhood Services Division at 763-5678 for assistance.
  6. Educate your children about graffiti – it is illegal; it is not “art” and engaging in this activity is a crime that could lead to arrest and payment for damages to property.


The City offers a reward of $500.00 for information leading to the arrest and filing of criminal charges of any person committing graffiti offenses. Call the Anonymous Tip Line at 768-3544 and leave a message.

Graffiti Offenders

Juveniles convicted of graffiti offenses must pay for repairs and attend special classes with their parents conducted on Saturdays by the Police Department. They may be sentenced to probation and community service. Adults convicted of graffiti crimes face fines and probation. Each year, the Watsonville Police Department convicts many graffiti offenders.

Graffiti Ordinance & Graffiti Abatement Program Brochure

To read the Graffiti Ordinance click here
To download the City Graffiti Abatement Program brochure click here

Help keep Watsonville clean and beautiful by doing your part to make sure graffiti is removed as soon as possible.

Unincorporated Area of Santa Cruz County

A joint project of the Volunteer Center and Santa Cruz County, The Graffiti Removal Project offers a variety of graffiti free services to community members in the unincorporated area of our county.

free neutral colored recycled paint is sometimes available from the County of Santa Cruz Household Hazardous Waste Program for use on fences and retaining walls. For further information about free recycled paint please call 454-2606.

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