City Hall to step up graffiti removal efforts in Tacoma

The City of Tacoma is planning to roll out a pilot program by the end of this year that aims to remove graffiti from private property within 72 hours.

The program calls for the City of Tacoma to hire a contractor to remove graffiti on private property located within so-called “key corridors” that include downtown Tacoma, bicycle and pedestrian routes, and areas with a high concentration of commercial properties, hotels, and multi-family properties, according to Allyson Griffith, a program development specialist within the City of Tacoma’s Community Based Services program. Griffith presented the plan to Tacoma City Councilmembers during a noon study session Tuesday at City Hall. The graffiti clean-up service would be provided free to private property owners who choose to participate in the program for up to three times during the pilot project’s one-year duration. If the same property is tagged more than once, City of Tacoma staff would work with property owners to take preventive measures in order to continue to receive free clean-up services.

The pilot project will keep track of an increase or decrease in overall graffiti incidents, the number of recurring graffiti incidents, the number of properties that require three “paint-outs,” and the number of incidents of graffiti that were addressed and removed within 72 hours.

The City of Tacoma plans to conduct a public outreach campaign to private property owners through the end of October. In November, staff will gather permission slips from participating property owners allowing contractors to remove graffiti from their properties. The pilot project is expected to begin in mid-December.

Griffith told councilmembers the City of Tacoma is currently considering two community-based, non-profit organizations to carry out the clean-up work. The program is expected to cost $50,000 and will be funded from available criminal justice sales tax revenue.

Tacoma City Council’s Neighborhoods and Housing Committee was briefed on the plan in July.

Currently, the City of Tacoma’s nuisance code allows 18 days for removal of graffiti from private property after it is reported to City Hall.

“It’s a great opportunity to take those highly visible corridors and give them some special attention,” said Tacoma City Manager T. C. Broadnax.

“I’m startled by the increase of graffiti in our neighborhood,” said Tacoma City Councilmember Lauren Walker. “In my neighborhood alone, there are two businesses where it is constant. I think this is a really great program to go forward and see how it does.”

A contractor removes graffiti from the side of a building in downtown Tacoma. (FILE PHOTOS BY TODD MATTHEWS)

A contractor removes graffiti from the side of a building in downtown Tacoma. (FILE PHOTOS BY TODD MATTHEWS)