Pierce County proposes new budget to tackle escalating graffiti, litter issues

A proposed budget by Pierce County officials aims at cracking down on graffiti and litter problems.

While some people consider graffiti to be art, others, like David Daniello, who owns Celebrity Cake Studio in Tacoma, said this kind of graffiti is vandalism.

“A lot of what we’re seeing is not art,” said Daniello. “It’s just graffiti for graffiti’s sake, and it’s tagging to show their territory.”

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Daniello said his business has been hit multiple times, including one this month where his storage facility was hit. He said every time this happens, he takes matters into his own hands.

“It’s very frustrating as a business owner because time is a very important commodity for a business person like, I can be doing other projects, but there are other things that need to be pushed forward,” he added.

Pierce County officials proposed their 2024-2025 county budget that would create a new community restoration and cleanup initiative to accelerate and expand the county’s response to litter and graffiti cleanup.

Officials said the initiative would use $4.5 million from the Federal American Rescue Plan Act on top of the $44 million they normally spend on these efforts. Officials said some of the money would go into buying two litter removal trucks.

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“They’re vacuum trucks that can go along the side of the road and focus easily and much more efficiently on picking up litter on our roads,” said Bruce Dammeier, a Pierce County executive.

When it comes to graffiti removal, Dammeier said they want to work with other cities and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to help with the cleanup.

Business owners like Daniello said it’s frustrating how long it takes for graffiti to be removed.

RELATED: Seattle graffiti suspect back in court amid new vandalism allegations, legal complexities

“We’re used to making a decision saying ‘I’m going to go paint that’ today, and I’m going to get it done, and I’m going to move on where it may take them three weeks to get it done,” Daniello continued.

Daniello said overall, he is glad to see that money is being proposed and to see the efforts by officials to do something about it.

Officials said if this budget is approved, their goal is to respond to litter and graffiti removal within a 24-48 hour removal period. This proposed budget is expected to be voted on by the council by the end of November.

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