Public Art and Graffiti

The City of Detroit wants to encourage public art and has established a registry for murals and public artworks that enhance public spaces and empower Detroit artists while also helping reduce blight.

Follow the links below to find out how to register public art on your property, how you might be able to have a mural painted to help you resolve a graffiti ticket, and learn more about the City Walls program.

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Public Art and Graffiti FAQ

The City of Detroit has zero tolerance for artwork created without the permission of the property owner.

Murals and related art are acceptable. Currently, property owners are not required to get a permit to create murals on their properties, but the City does ask that they register the artwork. The City of Detroit is starting to develop a permitting process to ensure the artists in the city are highlighted and citizens are aware that public art projects are approved.

While property owners cannot altogether avoid interactions with City inspectors, it is their job to inspect the city. Property owners can be proactive in registering the artwork with the City, which helps to more quickly resolve any dispute.

The timeline for disputing a correction order is 7 days.

The registration for public artwork is not mandatory but it is the most powerful resource in resolving disputes related to public art on private property.

The City defines “poor condition” as showing obvious wear such as peeling paint or alterations to the original art work, such as it being tagged. These definitions used by our BSEED inspectors are the same thresholds we would apply to define the condition of any structure’s appearance and are not unique to the artwork.

The City is working actively to combat blight and hold owners responsible for maintaining their property. Part of this effort includes pursuing enforcement on illegal graffiti art, tagging and vandalism. The City recognizes that there is a wide range of styles of artwork that property owners invite on their structures, including some that may be in the “graffiti style.”

To better facilitate the enforcement process and in an attempt to avoid ticketing artwork that has been invited on private property, the City is asking that property owners register their public artwork so it is not ticketed as blight and/or removed as part of the City’s blight eradication efforts. City inspectors will consult this registry, an electronic database.

Property with registered artwork is still subject to the City’s property maintenance code. If a piece of art is in poor condition (showing chipping or peeling paint, vandalized with non-sanctioned tags) it may still be subject to ticketing and abatement measures.

If you receive a correction notice from the City to remove the painting from your property, and you wish to dispute the notice to correct, you must call 313-628-2451 as quickly as possible so the painting is not removed and you can be assigned a hearing date to make your case.

As of July 1, 2017, a property owner who receives a blight ticket as the result of vandalism now can apply for a mural painted on the vandalized wall to fulfill the portion of the ticket requirement to restore the wall. For more information on the City Walls program please call 313-628-4306 or visit City Wall Program page.

Use this online form to request a mural.

This link is used when individuals or organizations are interested in a public arts project and are seeking permission and support.

Property owners who have received a blight ticket as a result of vandalism will now have the option to apply for a mural to be painted on their property to fulfill the requirements of correcting the violation. Murals have been shown to be a deterrent to vandalism and also be effective tools in economic development, community development, and beatification.

If you have received a ticket and would like to explore the option of getting a mural painted on your property, use this online form.

If your property has graffiti on it, City inspectors will provide a correction notice to the manager or owner on site or post the correction notice on the building. The inspector will also mail a postcard to the registered property owner to inform him or her that a correction notice has been issued.

If you do not remove the graffiti within 7 days, you will be given a ticket. If no one is there when the inspector visits, the ticket will be posted on your building. You may also get additional tickets if your property is out of compliance with other City property maintenance ordinances.  The City will then go on your property to remove the graffiti.  You will be given a court date for 2-4 weeks later and the date will be written on your ticket.

If you want to dispute a correction notice for any reason, immediately call:

A first offense graffiti ticket with fees is $130. You will also have to pay fees for any other property tickets you receive. If the City cleans your property, you will have to pay cleaning fees, which start at about $200 based on the size of the area covered by the graffiti.

The best way to stop vandals is by cleaning off any new graffiti within 48 hours. You should take photos of your property after you remove the graffiti. If it returns, take another photo before you clean it off again because the photos can be used as evidence to prosecute the vandals.

The Detroit Police Department is going after graffiti vandals. They can give you helpful advice on how to install cameras to catch vandals and how to report and follow up on a property damage case. If you find graffiti on your property, report the crime by calling or emailing:

If you witness a graffiti crime in progress, call:

Police / Fire / Medical Emergencies