This story illustrates the average graffiti abatement initiative, in this case in Yakima WA. It includes a combination of criminalizing the youth, penalizing the property owner, and not engaging the community. Once again, community murals are left out of the equation, in favor of repeatedly painting out vandalism over and over again. Graffiti abatement is big business that is increasingly being privatized. We see that “tough on graffiti” initiatives can appear to have impact immediately often fall off like an overused band-aid. Like a band-aid, they keep replacing these initiatives with new covers that don’t change the situation over time. Even San Jose, once one of the most lauded anti-graffiti initiatives in the country, is still paying $800,000 / year to abate graffiti. The writing on the wall may be getting erased but the cost isn’t. A truly successful abatement program’s costs would decrease over time. But this hasn’t happened. And all we are getting for our investment are patchy blank walls. Isn’t it time to start thing long term and invest in murals as a solution?
“The public doesn’t like it nor should we,” said Yakima City Manager Tony O’Rourke. “We need to be more aggressive…clearly there’s been efforts in the past, but clearly we need to ramp those up.”
Work is still being done on the new reporting system. It’s expected to be up and running this year.
The proposed graffiti changes will be presented to city council members on Tuesday.
Yakima City Manager Tony O’Rourke says they’re on board with the proposal.