by: Kevin McCarty Updated:TACOMA, Wash. —
Tacoma has a graffiti problem and it's getting worse. According to city officials, there has been a sharp spike in graffiti this year compared to 2012. "We're up about 30 percent in our reported incidents of graffiti, "said Business and Neighborhood Supervisor Carol Wolfe.
"And about 130 percent up in what we've just surveyed as possible graffiti violations."
Tacoma is embarking on a pilot program to quickly get rid of graffiti.
Private property owners will be encouraged to sign up for three free graffiti removals per year. When they report an incident, the city will paint over it or wash it off within 72 hours. And Wolfe said getting rid of graffiti quickly keeps it from spreading. "It is proven that if you don't remove graffiti within the first 48 to 72 hours it will attract more graffiti, "Wolfe said.
The program will be paid for with funds from a criminal justice sales tax that earmarks funds for crime prevention and the removal of blight.
Fifty-thousand will be used to pay private firms to match paint and cover graffiti or wash it off, depending on which solution is determined to be more effective. An additional $30,000 will be used toward outreach to property owners to encourage them to sign up for the program.
Participants get three graffiti removals in a year. After the first they receive tips on ways to prevent further incidents. After the third incident, they are on their own.
The city will begin the program in December and try it for a year to determine if it works.