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Mayor Harrell Celebrates Relaunch of Graffiti Abatement Partnership to Increase Graffiti Removal in Downtown Seattle and Chinatown-International District

Seattle – Today, Mayor Harrell in partnership with Uplift Northwest announced the relaunch of the Graffiti Abatement Program. While the program will be active in all parts of downtown Seattle, it will have an increased emphasis on graffiti abatement in the Chinatown-International District.

“We know that graffiti and tagging not only detract from the vibrancy of our neighborhoods, but also have tangible impacts on our small businesses whose storefronts are defaced and on marginalized communities who are targeted by hate speech,” said Mayor Harrell. “We must combat a surge in graffiti with a One Seattle approach, building partnerships with the community to find thoughtful, sustainable solutions that improve the quality of life for everyone in our city. The relaunched Graffiti Abatement Program will enhance our efforts to beautify our city while also developing our workforce, giving more people critical job training so they can access new employment opportunities and build better lives.”

“The opportunity to include this new training program in our courses and certifications at Uplift Northwest is invigorating, and we’ve seen a great deal of interest from our participants in joining the Graffiti Abatement Program,” said Max Churaisin, Senior Manager, Mission Programs at Uplift Northwest. “We expect continued enrollment and hope to see more teams deployed throughout the city.”

Started by a group of a students at City University of Seattle as their final Enactus project, the Graffiti Abatement Program was launched as a pilot program in 2022. Workers from Uplift Northwest were provided training on graffiti removal and safety and then deployed to the Belltown neighborhood to identify and remove graffiti from problem areas.

The relaunched program will include three full work crews of graffiti removal specialists, a project manager, and field operations coordinator supported by Uplift Northwest. The teams will receive comprehensive training and curriculum and be dispatched by the City of Seattle and other community partners to identify and abate graffiti on private property.

The Graffiti Abatement Program is one pillar of Mayor Harrell’s One Seattle Graffiti Plan to increase assistance to reduce graffiti on private property throughout the city. The plan addresses the surge in graffiti the city has experienced over the last several years. Since 2019, incidents of graffiti reported by the public have grown over 50%, including nearly 20,000 reports of graffiti and tagging in 2021.

The program is also an immediate action of the Downtown Activation Plan, a comprehensive effort to revitalize downtown’s economy and ensure downtown neighborhoods remain vibrant, welcoming places for residents, workers, and visitors alike.

This program will complement the work of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), Seattle Center (CEN), and Seattle Parks & Recreation (SPR) teams that remove graffiti from City property and assist the Metropolitan Improvement District (MID) on their abatement efforts. Over the last 12 months, City staff have removed 100 percent of reported graffiti within 10 business days and more than 98% of the graffiti was removed within 2 business days.

Seattle residents can report graffiti on public or private property using the online report form or by submitting a report through the Find It, Fix It mobile app.

What People Are Saying

Monisha Singh, Executive Director, Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area

“Chinatown-ID BIA is excited to work with the City of Seattle to address the critical issue of graffiti in Chinatown-International District. As a historic district, appropriate techniques of graffiti abatement on historic and non-historic brick is paramount to creating a clean, safe, and welcoming downtown neighborhood. We look forward to being an active partner on this important effort.”

Dr. Kathy Cox, Associate VP of Strategic Partnerships and CityU Enactus Faculty Advisor

“We are so proud of the work that the CityU Enactus team accomplished. The team met with city officials, Belltown United, Uplift Northwest, and cleaning supply companies to develop a budget, business plan, and training opportunities. They worked around the clock to put their business plan into action, and I am so impressed with all that they have accomplished. We are very excited that the impacts of their project are finally coming to fruition and to take their pilot to the next stage to improve all of the Seattle downtown core.”

Tom Graff, Board Chair, Belltown United

“Belltown United has conducted numerous community graffiti Paint Outs on both private and public property in Belltown for the last 16 months. We partnered with City University, the MID, and Uplift Northwest in the summer of 2022 to paint primarily our most difficult graffiti hot spots on private property that can’t seem to stay clear. This work was critical to establish a base line of a clean slate to keep our neighborhood mostly clear of graffiti. We look forward to the relaunch of this program to take care of some of our more intractable private property graffiti sites.” 

Harry Jinwala, CityU student and current Enactus CleanUp Project Leader

“I love doing what I do in Enactus and seeing how it makes a difference in the community. It’s such a great experience to be able to apply the concepts that I’m learning in my classes at CityU to real world business scenarios that are having positive impacts in our community.”