Yakima partners with landlords, troubled kids to clean up graffiti

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Another idea to make a dent in Yakima's chronic graffiti problem involves a partnership with the city, landlords and kids in trouble.

Graffiti seems to be one of Yakima's biggest pains - eyesores you can't seem to escape.

David Appleby's house was hit twice by taggers in the last nine months.

"Sometimes they go and you get done just painting it and getting it all cleaned up and they come back the next day and do it again. That's what's frustrating," Appleby said.

Yakima is aware of the frustration and is pushing a partnership with landlords and the juvenile court system. Kids in juvenile detention would paint over graffiti when it's spotted. The goal is for a faster response.

Enrique Jevons is a landlord who wants to see it happen.

"We all need to join together and really combat the problem. It's not a problem that the city alone can take care of," Jevons said.

The problem is the city can't just paint on private property. That's where the landlords come in.

They have to sign permission slips authorizing the city to paint whenever taggers strike.

Jevons says the challenge is tracking down property owners who don't live in Yakima.

"The time and effort spent on it is just tremendous. It's extremely frustrating just to have to constantly be painting over and over and over," he said.

Yakima says it's getting about 50 landlords on board a month, a hundred in July.

Anyone who owns property can sign up and the city will do the painting when necessary.

"How can you ever have a nice community and get along with everybody if you have to worry about that all the time? How can you get ahead?" Appleby said.

Appleby hopes it means his painting days are behind him.

Permission slips are available through Yakima's Office of Neighborhood Development Services. Yakima hopes to get the program off the ground this fall.