Almost 900 graffiti spots cleaned up this year

YAKIMA, Wash. -- It's a tell-tale sign that spring is here. Mixed in with the cherry blossoms and blooming flowers comes graffiti. The city of Yakima is turning to a grassroots effort to keep the town clean.

Houses, light poles, and garages are not safe from taggers.

"Three weeks after I moved in, they started tagging my garage," said Shirley McQuigg, a Yakima resident since 2007. She said her garage isn't even the same color anymore because it's been painted over so many times. McQuigg's not alone.

Joseph Langley's house has been tagged seven times since July. He wants to re-paint his house, but he'll only do part of it.

"It's like what's the point?" asked Langley. "As soon as I repaint it and make it nice again, some little punk is going to come by with a can of spray paint and write something on there."

Across town, it's a problem that's happened 900 times so far this year and it's not getting any better. With a tight graffiti budget, Yakima is relying on volunteers to help clean up the mess. More than 1,400 volunteer hours have been spent to help clean up graffiti this year.

Another frustrated neighbor, Candy Montes, said she's never had to deal with graffiti until she moved to Yakima. Her house has been painted over six times in just six months.

"It's really frustrating especially when you're trying to make a life for yourself and have a house and do whatever and you come home and there's graffiti or you wake up and there's graffiti," said Montes.

Langley hopes stiffer penalties and jail time will keep these taggers out of his neighborhood.

"It's really frustrating," said Langley. "It kind of destroys the whole point of curb appeal. You know what I mean; the neighborhood doesn't look good already."

Until then, crews will continue to work to keep graffiti off your property and hopefully out of town.

Yakima plans to stop the graffiti problem by improving code standards as well as to increase more volunteer programs.