SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced his plan to address what he's calling a surge in graffiti seen in the city.
The "One Seattle Graffiti Plan" is intended to help beautify the city, as well as increase enforcement. It would also increase space for public art through the "Many Hands Art Initiative."
“We have an opportunity to envision a more beautiful Seattle – with murals and canvasses that reflect our values of creativity, inclusion, and forward-thinking,” Harrell said. “Not only does tagging and graffiti detract from the vibrancy of our city, there are tangible impacts on communities targeted by hate speech, small business owners whose shops are defaced, and residents who rely on City signage for information and guidance.
"Incidents of graffiti have dramatically increased throughout the pandemic, and progress requires a One Seattle approach, where we work together to advance proven solutions, reduce silos, and tap into our greatest resource – our community.”
According to the city, reports of graffiti have increased by more than 50% since 2019, including nearly 20,000 reports and tagging in 2021.
The "One Seattle Graffiti Plan" will initially rely on $944,000 of the mayor's proposed budget and be used for improved abatement efforts, supporting property owners, and improving volunteer opportunities.
Harrell's plan includes six main strategies:
Implementing best practices to increase abatement by increasing staffing and resources for Seattle Public Utilities' Graffiti Rangers and improving interdepartmental coordination.
Increased assistance to reduce graffiti by offering abatement services at low or no cost to property owners.
Provide up to 1,000 graffiti abatement kits and training to businesses.
Work with the City Attorney's Office and Seattle police to increase enforcement, which includes "larger penalties" for the "most prolific taggers."
Engage with artists, businesses and volunteers to find more spaces for public art.
Continue to collaborate with the Washington State Department of Transportation to prioritize cleanup along the right of ways.
In a statement, the Downtown Seattle Association said the Metropolitan Improvement District's Clean Team cleans a 285-square block area downtown seven days a week in an effort to "create a healthy, vibrant downtown for all." The Association said it supports Harrell's plan.
"In the last two years alone, the Clean Team has removed more than 57,000 graffiti tags and stickers from public and private structures," the statement continues. "Our recent investment in additional cleaning resources will help enhance this team’s ability to ensure a welcoming environment. This work is crucial for downtown’s recovery.”