Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell unveils plan to 'beautify' city, address graffiti

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell on Thursday announced a plan to ‘beautify’ the city and clean up graffiti.

The plan includes new and improved initiatives to increase ways to reduce graffiti, foster community partnership, and install new public art around the city.

"We have an opportunity to envision a more beautiful Seattle – with murals and canvasses that reflect our values of creativity, inclusion, and forward thinking," said Harrell. "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."

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(Downtown Seattle Association)

According to the city, Harrell’s plan has six pillars:

  • Expand staffing and resources for Seattle Public Utilities’ "Graffiti Rangers"
  • Provide new resources for victims of vandalism
  • Engage with artists, businesses and volunteers to make more art spaces and public art
  • Provide 1,000 graffiti abatement kits to community groups
  • Increase police enforcement of graffiti offenses, especially targeting ‘prolific taggers’
  • Continue prioritizing collaboration with WSDOT for cleanup efforts

"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," said Harrell.

The city reports instances of graffiti went up 52% during the pandemic, and despite Clean City Initiative funding helping to mitigate tagging, it was not enough to keep up. All racist, sexist or obscene graffiti was cleaned up within 24 hours of being reported, the city says.

"From the moment he took office, Mayor Harrell has emphasized the importance of a clean Seattle. We applaud this concentrated effort to clean and beautify the city. Our Metropolitan Improvement District Clean Team undertakes that mission seven days a week, to create a healthy, vibrant downtown for all," wrote the Downtown Seattle Association. "In the last two years alone, the Clean Team has removed more than 57,000 graffiti tags and stickers from public and private structures. 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."

Seattle mayor wants state to take quicker action on graffiti removal along highways

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell wants the state to take quicker action on removing graffiti along state highways that run through Seattle, saying he is willing to tear up a long-standing memorandum of understanding between the state and city, if necessary.