Working for a safe, affordable, vibrant, innovative, and interconnected city.
Learn More Home Page This Department
Link to OED Home Page Link to OED Home Page Link to OED About Us Page Link to OED Contact Us Page
Start, Grow, or Green Your Business Stephen H. Johnson, Director
Business Owners Business Districts Key Industries News and Resources
Letter from the Mayor
How to Use This Guide
Abbreviations Used in This Guide
Hints for Successful Business District Improvements
Beautification Projects
Flower Planters
Holiday Lighting
Metro Bus Shelters
Public Art
Street Trees
Clean and Green Seattle Initiative
Enhancement Projects
Street Furniture
Pedestrian Lighting
Bicycle Racks
Newspaper Boxes
Only in Seattle Initiative grants
Forming a Business Improvement Area
City of Seattle Grants and Funding
Litter Cans
Sidewalk Cleaning
Spring Clean
Street Cleaning
Street Paving
Building/Fire Code Violations
Managing Parking
Public Safety
Street Light & Power Line Repair
Alley & Security Lighting
Crime Prevention
Emergency Preparedness
District Identification Signs
Traffic Controls
Use of Public Areas
City Parks
Sidewalk Cafes
Street Vendors
Additional Information

Create a Thriving Business District


Graffiti comes in many forms and styles and is a form of vandalism. While most Seattle graffiti is of the “tagger” variety, residents and visitors may assume that graffiti is drug or gang related and therefore is often viewed as a sign of a neglected and perhaps an unsafe neighborhood.

For this reason it is imperative that graffiti is removed promptly from all surfaces. “ Three Times 72” is the Rule! If graffiti is removed from a surface within 72 hours three times, it is unlikely that the property will be vandalized in the future. This is because the vandals do not want to risk jail for something that they can’t show their friends.

For the same reason, immediate removal of graffiti is the best way to stop graffiti from occurring at all. The number of vandals is small; but if their damage is allowed to stand, it can seem much higher. Graffiti is a crime and persons convicted may be sentenced to jail.

Frequently asked questions:

What should I do when I see graffiti in my neighborhood?

Report graffiti to the Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) Graffiti and Illegal Dumping Hotline at 206-684-7587 or online at: When graffiti appears on your property, call the police to file a report at 206-625-5011. T his will help prosecutors down the road. If you see an act of graffiti vandalism in progress, call 911 immediately.

Who is responsible for removing graffiti?

Graffiti on public property will be removed by SPU’s skilled Graffiti Rangers or other City departments. Graffiti on private property is the responsibility of the property owner. SPU will notify property owners to tell them they need to remove the graffiti in accordance with City Code.

What if the graffiti is on a leased dumpster?

The City requires the dumpster contractor to repaint or replace commercial dumpsters that have graffiti. Call your contractor when a leased commercial dumpster experiences graffiti. If it is a residential dumpster, call SPU’s Graffiti Hotline at 206-684-7587.

What is the best way to remove graffiti?

Graffiti may appear on any of the surfaces listed below. If you can’t remove it right away, cover it with black plastic until appropriate removal can be completed. For assistance with removal on private property, you can get free advice from the City’s Anti-Graffiti Program at 206-684-7587.

  • Painted Surfaces : Graffiti on painted surfaces is best removed simply by painting over the damage. If you have a frequently tagged wall, request a five-gallon bucket of paint from the graffiti program and paint the whole wall. Keep the extra paint so you always have a quick match.
  • Metal Surfaces : For cleaning graffiti on metal surfaces there are many types of products, but simple lacquer thinner often works best. Be sure to test a small area.
  • Masonry Surfaces : Masonry surfaces require specialized chemicals that vary based on the type of stone and hot water pressure washers. It is generally best to contact a professional firm.
  • Glass : Vandals are increasingly using acid etching pens to damage store windows. Often an auto glass repair shop can buff out the etching, but you’ll be left with distortion. If you find that your glass has been etched, DO NOT TOUCH as the acid could burn you. Rinse the area with lots of water to stop the acid working. Then you will need to decide whether to replace the glass or have it buffed.

How do I organize my business district to remove graffiti on a regular basis?

  • Organize a “Paint-Out” : This great concept comes from the Rainier Chamber of Commerce and is designed to encourage community building and participation. It is a fun way to reclaim your community! You need to:
    1. Recruit volunteers and choose an area to cover (one block or several bocks, depending on the number of volunteers).
    2. Contact the City’s Anti-Graffiti Program and let them know about the project. SPU will provide painting supplies for free.
    3. Obtain the paint. SPU will tell you where to access the Paint Bank, where paints of many colors are available at no charge.
    4. Choose a date—feel free to do “Paint-Out” year round, but be sure to schedule an alternative date in case of rain.
    5. Paint out graffiti in your area—obtain permission from property owners first.
    6. Repeat on a regular basis. “Paint-Outs” are most effective when done regularly.
  • Invent your own! The City of Seattle has a grant program available to fund innovative graffiti clean-up programs. Get more information at 206- 386-9746.




  • Seattle Police Department
    Non-emergency------------------------------------------------------- 206-625-5011
    Emergency------------------------------------------------------------ Call 911
    General Police Department website: