Ross: Downtown Seattle’s ‘eruptions of ugliness’ to be dealt with in less than 45 minutes

Sep 6, 2022, 11:16 AM | Updated: 11:29 am
Photo from Flickr...
Photo from Flickr

I realize that graffiti will always be with us. But it’s always nice to see some progress.

For example – I was actually encouraged by the recent graffiti on the I-90 retaining wall at Mt. Baker that says “what’s it all about?” It’s vandalism, yes, but at least it’s in cheerful colors and raises the question that we all ask ourselves from time to time.

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Why can’t there be more positive graffiti like that? The negative stuff is so clichéd – we can get it on Twitter. How about a few more ‘I love you’s’ or a 20-foot tag on a retaining wall that says “drive nice”?

But instead, we’re stuck with the angry stuff.

So all that’s left is rapid removal.

And that’s why I wanted to take a moment to welcome Seattle’s expanded Downtown Clean Team, which we reported on last week.

These are rapid response cleanup ambassadors on specially-designed tricycles, paid for by downtown businesses, who are on-call in the urban core area between I-5 and the waterfront.

And their goal is to respond to eruptions of ugliness in 45 minutes or less.

And it’s not just graffiti cleanup. They deal with a list of urban insults including animal and human waste, excessive trash, spilled food, syringes, and urine smell. You do not have to fill out a police report. Just call them, or check the appropriate box on the service request page.

And if you’re wondering why it’s up to businesses to pay for this – that’s the law. The government only cleans up public property. Vandalism on private property is up to the owner. The act of vandalism, of course, is against the law, but the law also says that for police to arrest a vandal, they have to catch him in the act. And the police are a little short-handed these days.

So a big thank-you to the Clean Team, and businesses paying the bill.

It would be better, I know, to prevent the graffiti to begin with.

My go-to idea is to cover all blank walls with artificial ivy. But no takers on that so far.

So my other idea is that since almost all graffiti is committed by young males, we could all raise our sons to respect private property – or at least to be a little less angry.

But I’m thinking the fake ivy would be easier.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Downtown Seattle’s ‘eruptions of ugliness’ to be dealt with in less than 45 minutes