Graffiti on the rise in Yakima, so is the cost to cover it up

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Graffiti around Yakima has picked up this spring. We're only halfway through May and the number of taggings is already close to what we saw in April. Action News learned Yakima now has to pay more to cover up the mess.

Without risk, there's no reward. One businesswoman had a vision to fix up one building.

"We put in a lot of time and effort to try to make our business appeal to customers and clients and realistically it doesn't appeal to somebody if the building is tagged," said Ginger's Dance & Fitness Boutique Owner Ginger Roybal.

Her building had graffiti everywhere when she bought it. She spent hours cleaning up the mess, but, that only led to more frustration.

"Somebody was able to climb to the top of the building, the front of the building, tag the entire front half of the building, climb back down and leave and us not notice or hear anything," Roybal said.

She's far from alone. City crews from Block by Block cleaned more than 300 tags in April. They've dealt with more than 200 already this month.

Workers with Yakima's Office of Neighborhood Development have seen higher numbers in each of the last two Aprils. On top of that, the amount of paint needed has doubled.

Yakima used to get cover up paint for free from a company in Oregon. That deal ran out and now the city buys its paint for five dollars a gallon. Yakima uses up to a thousand gallons a year to cover graffiti.

George Zamudio lives on South 6th Street where taggers aren't shy.

"It doesn't look good in the neighborhood. You get used to it, but it still doesn't look right," Zamudio said.

Neighborhoods hit the most in recent months include sections from Lincoln to Fruitvale, 6th to 16th Avenues and MLK to Naches.

Each stroke of paint comes with a price that must be paid. City crews said they saw graffiti spike during the weekend of Cinco de Mayo.