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caption: Mayor Bruce Harrell stands with community leaders in front of an MLK mural at Fats Chicken and Waffles located at Martin Luther King Jr Way and Cherry Street. Harrell announce his proposal to address graffiti in Seattle.
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Mayor Bruce Harrell stands with community leaders in front of an MLK mural at Fats Chicken and Waffles located at Martin Luther King Jr Way and Cherry Street. Harrell announce his proposal to address graffiti in Seattle.
Credit: Mike Davis / KUOW

Seattle wants to put its money where its graffiti is

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell has announced a new plan to address a surge of graffiti in the city.

Harrell is not only calling on multiple city departments to address the graffiti — he’s also looking to citizens in the community to support these efforts.

“We're going to enhance our volunteer programming and coordination," Harrell said. "Building on experience from anti-graffiti volunteers, our plan will include up to 1,000 graffiti-abatement kits.”

The $940,000 anti-graffiti plan is outlined in Mayor Harrell's budget proposal, which the Seattle City Council will vote on next month. The proposal aims to encourage more public street art in place of the graffiti. It also will pay for the graffiti-abatement kits, which will contain all the tools necessary to clean up graffiti.

In Wallingford, Denise Chase has already started efforts combating graffiti.

“I now have my paint and my rollers," Chase said. "And when I walk by, I just get rid of it. And I must say that they're getting a little tired of me. I have a little more time, and a little more paint, than the taggers do.”

The city will launch a new day of caring in each district starting in 2023 to bring volunteers and community groups together to beautify neighborhoods.

Tacoma also recently announced that it is upping anti-graffiti efforts as part of its response to crime. The Washington State Department of Transportation also incorporated graffiti clean up along I-5 as it completed freeway maintenance over the summer.

Following Harrell's announcement Thursday, City Attorney Ann Davison followed up with a statement applauding the mayor's proposal.

Davison says that she plans to prosecute the most prolific and destructive graffiti taggers so the city sends a strong message that this type of defacement will not be tolerated:

“I am glad to see Mayor Harrell announced steps today to improve the City’s response to the massive increase in graffiti that Seattle has experienced over the past two years. Graffiti taggers who vandalize public and private property are doing enormous harm and costing taxpayers, small businesses, and neighborhoods millions of dollars in property damage. It needs to end. For my part as City Attorney, I will be focused on enforcement strategies to arrest and prosecute the most prolific and destructive graffiti taggers. In order to see a meaningful change on our streets, the city must send a firm message that it will not tolerate continued destruction and defacement of our neighborhoods.”