Ross: I’m tired of graffiti, we need nightly paint truck patrols

Sep 12, 2023, 8:03 AM | Updated: 10:59 am

seattle property crimes graffiti patrols...

Graffiti marks a building in downtown Seattle. (Photo by Bill Kaczaraba/

(Photo by Bill Kaczaraba/

Can we all agree it’s finally gone too far? Now, there’s a posted video showing a freeway tagger actually using one of Washington State Department of Transportation’s own hydraulic lifts to tag a section of the Interstate 5 express lanes!

Either someone left the keys in it, or the ignition was made by KIA. But in any case, I think we can say the gauntlet has been thrown.

More from Dave Ross on the subject: Maybe graffiti would be nicer if it was more cheerful

On yesterday’s Gee & Ursula show, Ursula Reutin spray-painted a line in the sand.

“It’s just a personal affront in this beautiful area that we call home that people think it’s just cool to muck it up,” Ursula said.

She’s right, but I’m sorry, kids are listening,  I should have censored that.

“[Bleep] it up.”

Amen, Ursula.

The overwhelming quantity of I-5 graffiti is not just unsightly, it says we don’t care, and that stench of apathy permeates the city.

“And then other people come and spray paint some more, and then other people come more, and well it looks like trash anyway,” she continued. “So why don’t I just poop over here?”

Oops, sorry about that.

“Why don’t I just [bleep] over here.”

She’s angry, and she has a right to be. She wants the vandals punished and the tags painted over as many times as it takes.

But, she wasn’t getting a lot of support from her co-host, Gee Scott.

“I just don’t think it bothers us like it bothers you,” Gee said.

Gee didn’t see it as a top priority, and neither did producer Andrew “Chef” Lanier.

“All the gray paint, that is a blank canvas, a brand new canvas for taggers,” Chef said.

Until finally, she could only cry out in despair.

“Am I alone in this?” Ursula said, discouraged.

No, Ursula, you are not alone in this.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Especially now that the taggers apparently have taught themselves to use the state’s own equipment.

More on graffiti from Dave Ross: This level is like defacing the Great Pyramid

Graffiti isn’t just ugly, it’s distracting. We have a freeway system which, from the moment rush hour begins, is one distracted driver away from gridlock.

So it’s time for nightly paint truck patrols up and down the breakdown lanes on I-5. Trucks equipped with Night Vision cameras, AI face recognition, and side-mounted paint nozzles. All graffiti, gone by morning. Every morning.

And if they happen to spray paint some wanna-be highway Rembrandt in the act, so be it. His paint shadow on the concrete can serve as a warning to others.

More from Dave Ross: It’s probably too late to stop universal face recognition

I’m not heartless. I know kids have to express themselves. So, as a condition of their parole, hire them to stripe the freeways.

One thing they’re good at is choosing paint that never fades, and if they do a good job, they get their own vanity sign:  “Lane striping courtesy of STIGMA.” And if you don’t like my sign idea, don’t worry, I’m sure someone will vandalize it anyway.

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: I’m tired of graffiti, we need nightly paint truck patrols