The plan would increase graffiti removal, create opportunities for murals and artistic expression, support victims, expand volunteer activities and increase options for law enforcement.
Seattle – Today, Mayor Bruce Harrell detailed elements of his One Seattle Graffiti plan to beautify Seattle and address a surge in graffiti through new strategies and proposed budget investments. Since 2019, incidents of graffiti reported by the public have increased by more than 50%, including almost 20,000 reports of graffiti and tags in 2021.
WATCH: Mayor Harrell shares strategies for dealing with surge in graffiti
“We have the opportunity to imagine a more beautiful Seattle – with murals and canvases that reflect our values of creativity, inclusion and forward-thinking,” said Mayor Harrell. “Not only is tagging and graffiti harming the vibrancy of our city, but there are tangible impacts on communities targeted by hate speech, small business owners whose stores are defaced, and residents who rely on signage. town for information and advice. Graffiti incidents have increased dramatically throughout the pandemic, and progress requires a A Seattle approach, where we work together to advance proven solutions, reduce silos and tap into our greatest resource – our community.
Mayor Harrell’s plan includes six main pillars:
- Implement best practices to increase reduction — Mayor Harrell’s proposed plan and budget will bolster the staff and resources of the Seattle Utilities Graffiti Rangers, enabling them to easily remove graffiti using specialized equipment and effectively discourage retagging. The plan will also improve interdepartmental coordination between city departments involved in anti-graffiti work.
- Increased help to reduce graffiti on private property – New resources will be offered to victims of vandalism and existing resources will be made easier and more equitable to access. In addition to a pilot emission kit program and the new program from the Office of Economic Development Showcase repair fundSPU’s Graffiti Rangers will proactively offer low-cost or no-cost City clean-up services to eligible property owners.
- Many Hands Art Initiative – Mayor Harrell’s plan will engage artists, businesses, volunteers and others to activate spaces with art, mitigating and preventing graffiti, through the Many Hands Art Initiative. The Seattle Office of Arts and Culture is already looking for partners to install new public art, providing opportunities for creators. As part of this initiative, they are also developing artist-led youth programs to give young people a sanctioned and safe way to engage with the street arts.
- Improved volunteer scheduling and coordination – Building on the experience of anti-graffiti volunteers, Mayor Harrell’s plan will include providing up to 1,000 graffiti reduction kits and training individuals, groups and businesses in their effective use. Additionally, the City will launch new Days of Caring in each district beginning in 2023, bringing together volunteers and community groups to improve and beautify neighborhoods.
- New approaches to application – Working with the City Attorney’s Office and the SPD, the plan will strengthen enforcement of graffiti offenses, balancing stiffer penalties for the most prolific taggers and expanded diversion options for graffiti offenders. low level. These will include community service work, mentorship programs and alternative avenues of creative expression to discourage future offences.
- Ongoing collaboration with the Washington State Department of Transportation – Early collaboration between the city and the WSDOT redefined cleanup priorities along their rights-of-way, with hundreds of man-hours devoted to reduction efforts during late-night lane closures for the joint works of I-5 expansion this summer. The City of Seattle will continue to work with the WSDOT to prioritize cleanup and reduction along the freeway and other rights-of-way, pursuing an effective and coordinated approach moving forward.
Implementation of the plan’s first priorities will depend on $944,000 in the mayor’s proposed budget, which will go towards improving reduction efforts, supporting homeowners affected by graffiti and improving volunteer opportunities. . The proposal was developed with the City’s limited budget in mind – prioritizing high-impact policies and programs that could be implemented at lower cost.
Mayor Harrell announced the plan for Fat’s Chicken and Waffles, the Central District restaurant that houses an iconic mural of Martin Luther King Jr. which has been vandalized with graffiti earlier this year.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
Rabbi Will Berkovitz, CEO, Jewish Family Service Seattle
“Days after I wrote an op-ed about rising hatred against the Jewish community, a week after a gunman took Jews hostage at a Texas synagogue, anti-Semitic graffiti appeared in front of our building on Capitol Hill, a few blocks from one of the largest synagogues in our city: Temple De Hirsch Sinai. The city took swift action and immediately removed the graffiti, reducing the potential for any further hate speech or violence. Sadly, we live in a time of increasing acts of hate and violence against historically marginalized communities. We are extremely grateful to Mayor Harrell and his commitment to fighting the upsurge in vandalism around Seattle, especially when those acts include hate speech.
Erin Goodman, Managing Director, SODO BIA
“SODO’s neighbors and small businesses have been seriously harmed by the wave of graffiti over the past few years – buildings and signs are too often defaced with hateful messages that have no place in our community. But we know that art can also be a powerful prevention tool. I look forward to working with Mayor Harrell on this much-needed investment to address tagging issues, promote creative murals and artwork, and give our community for resources and support to take action.
Ahi Martin-McSweeney, CHBA Program Manager, Capitol Hill Business Alliance
“Seattle small businesses have faced many challenges over the past few years, and persistent vandalism and tagging continue to affect them. Mayor Harrell’s plan to quickly tackle graffiti is tangible support for business owners, allowing them to focus on a recovering economy while creating vibrant streets that benefit our neighborhoods through murals and street art. ‘Street art.
Mike Stewart, Managing Director, Alliance Ballard
“Mayor Harrell’s plan to beautify Seattle and tackle graffiti promises to be a welcome relief for the city’s business districts. The Ballard Alliance has created murals and street art programs this year that have not only improved our neighborhood streetscape, but have also proven effective in deterring unwanted graffiti.
GRAFFITI IN SEATTLE
- Seattle has seen a 52% growth in graffiti reported by the public or discovered by staff during the pandemic, with 19,700 reports in 2021, compared to 13,000 reports in 2019.
- Funding from the Clean City Initiative helped mitigate the increase in tagging during the pandemic, with 8,700 tags removed by SPU, SDOT and SPR in 2021, compared to 5,000 tags removed in 2019, but it was not enough to keep pace.
- The three largest reduction departments (SPU, SDOT and SPR) cleaned up 100% of racist, sexist or obscene graffiti within 24 hours of reporting it in 2021.
- In 2021, 69% of graffiti reported and discovered was on City property. 19% were located on private property, with the rest being the responsibility of other government agencies, including WSDOT, King County Metro, and USPS.
- Across all public and private properties in 2021, buildings were the most frequent target at 18%, followed by utility poles and traffic lights at 15%, traffic and parking signs at 14%, and bridges and viaducts at 13%.