Seattle Public utilities said there may have been a misunderstanding on what was considered graffiti on Restaurante Michoacan in Ballard. They had sent the property owners a letter requesting it remove graffiti under its Graffiti Nuisance Ordinance.
City says graffiti removal request was misunderstanding
Seattle Public Utilities said today that there has been a misunderstanding between it and the owners of Restaurante Michoacan on 15th Avenue Northwest about whether they need to remove a happy face sign on the front of the restaurant building.
A letter sent from the city on July 21 to the property owner states, “A City inspector will visit the property in 10 days to determine whether the graffiti has been removed from: Restaurante Michoacan tags on front side. If the graffiti has already been removed, please disregard this letter.”
Restaurant owners misunderstood that to mean they needed to paint over a smiley face that has been on the building for more than 10 years.
“We don’t think it’s (the happy face) graffiti,” Andy Ryan of Seattle Public Utilities said. “We sent them the letter because there was graffiti on their building, which they acknowledged and cleaned up.”
The Ballard News-Tribune spoke to Ryan on Tuesday, July 28, in regards to the restaurant removing the happy face and Ryan’s response was that the city had received a complaint and acted on its Graffiti Nuisance Ordinance by sending the property owner’s a letter to remove the graffiti.
Rudy McCoy-Pantoja, manager of Ballard/ Fremont Clean Streets Program, said he was told by the property owners to paint over the happy face.
McCoy-Pantoja said he sometimes speaks on behalf of the restaurant owners, who do not speak English very well.
“I talked to the property owners in regards to the graffiti and all they could see was the happy face and a little on the mural,” he said. “But it was determining what was the actual issue in regards to the (graffiti) complaint and at first we couldn’t see it other than the happy face.”
He said the restaurant owners are just trying to make the neighborhood happy.
“We strictly enforce the graffiti ordinance but we never talked about the happy face,” Ryan said. “ If there was some misunderstanding through the telephone we’re very sorry.”