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City of Renton Launches “Wipe Out Graffiti” Initiative

January 8, 2009

For more information contact:

Kevin Milosevich, Chief of Police, Renton Police Department 425-430-7500
Charles Karlewicz, Commander, Renton Police Department 425-430-7640
Preeti Shridhar, Communications Director 425-430-6569, cell 206-491-8158

New Ordinance Gets Tough on Offenders

Free Graffiti Removal Kits for Victims with Limited Means

RENTON— In the battle against graffiti, the City of Renton’s new Graffiti Control Ordinance went into effect on January 6, 2009. The ordinance, one of the components of the city’s plan to reduce criminal activity and enhance overall safety throughout Renton, helps prosecute graffiti offenders and reduce the damages inflicted on property owners.

Graffiti is a crime that decreases property values and contributes to the overall decline of a neighborhood. It is also a costly problem. According to the U.S. Department of Justice the cost to the public associated with graffiti is approximately $13 billion a year nationwide.

Over the course of the last few years there have been escalating incidents of graffiti or “tagging” in the Puget Sound area and in Renton. As part of its efforts to address this problem, the city created an inter-departmental anti-graffiti and vandalism task force to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to remove and prevent graffiti and vandalism in the city.

“Graffiti is a crime and it costs our citizens thousands of dollars to clean it up,” said Mayor Denis Law. “Our goal is to make people think twice before committing an act of vandalism in the first place, and to hold them responsible for and accountable for the damage.”

The city’s plan also provides relief for the victims of graffiti who have limited means, and solicits support from local businesses and the community. 

“We want to punish the vandals and not the victims,” said Law. “It is illegal to have graffiti on your property. Property owners are responsible for removing graffiti on their properties and our program helps graffiti victims by providing them with resources to help them remove graffiti on their property. The new ordinance also makes it possible for the city to use public funds to remove graffiti on private property.”

Highlights of Renton’s Wipe Out Graffiti Initiative:

  • Anti-Graffiti Ordinance—City of Renton Ordinance #5429 provides for tougher penalties for graffiti activity. The ordinance
  • Makes it illegal to possess graffiti paraphernalia with the intention of using it to deface public or private property.
  • Allows the court to order those convicted of graffiti vandalism to pay damages to the victim, including the City of Renton.
  • Allows public funds to be used for graffiti removal.
  • Allows the city to assign up to a $5,000 liability to the parent of a minor who commits graffiti vandalism.
  • Authorizes the city to offer up to a $300 reward for information leading to the identification and apprehension of any person who commits graffiti vandalism.

Graffiti removal kits—are available at no charge to individuals who have been victimized by graffiti on their property and have limited means to deal with removing it. The kits include various products required to remove graffiti and are available at Renton City Hall, the Renton Community Center and other public facilities throughout Renton. The kits are collaboration between the City of Renton and local retailers who have donated many of the items.

Partnerships with local retailers, businesses and organizations—in a unique effort to bring together the city and the local business community in the fight against graffiti, the city is partnering with local retailers and other businesses to prevent graffiti, provide resources, and help eradicate graffiti in the community. Currently McLendon’s Hardware in Renton and Wal-Mart in Renton have already joined the city in this effort by contributing material for the graffiti removal kits, and participating in a proactive anti-graffiti educational campaign. They are also planning to sponsor graffiti-removal volunteer opportunities in the future. The city continues to invite partners to join its efforts and has set up several meetings with other area businesses and community members to seek partnerships.  Businesses and other interested organizations are invited to call 425-430-6591 or 425-430-6624 to find out how they can “team up” to fight graffiti.

Cameras—that help identify and prosecute vandals and those guilty of graffiti activity. The city has identified several “hot spots’ throughout the city and installed cameras in these locations to help identify and prosecute vandals and those guilty of graffiti activity. The cameras will be rotated to various locations as needed and the city plans to purchase additional cameras. The city used funds from a recent grant from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to help pay for some of the cameras.

Volunteer program—to help seniors and other residents with limited resources who are victims of graffiti. The city will organize anti-graffiti sweeps and volunteer work parties to remove graffiti and keep Renton’s neighborhoods graffiti-free. The city will also hire a part-time graffiti abatement coordinator to coordinate both internal and external clean-up efforts.

Wipe Out Graffiti”—a provocative anti-graffiti education campaign to encourage the public to report graffiti, document it, abate it quickly and volunteer for the city’s anti-graffiti efforts. People should call 9-1-1 immediately if they see “tagging” in progress. The city has also established a graffiti hotline, 425-430-7373, where people can report existing graffiti.

To volunteer or participate in the city’s program, to donate supplies for the graffiti removal kits, or to sponsor a community volunteer opportunity call 425-430-6624. For more information visit