You can help protect street art.

In the past decade Seattle has been more or less in harmony with it’s street art community. With Post Alley, the 11th and Pine poster wall, TUBS and the SODO free wall Seattle has enjoyed numerous oases of freedom of speech. Now in 2013 with the majority of those walls closed and their future unknown, we must act to find suitable replacements for these fading cultural icons. As with any art form, the only way to excel is with practice. Without these locations where the public can legally practice aerosol techniques, we can only assume we will see a rise in illegal vandalism. Take the skyrocketing success of skateboarding as an example; in the 1990’s the use of urban areas  for skateboarding led to an effort to condemn the growing sport. While urban planning experts were at work re-engineering the new skateboard proof world, proponents of the sport, and the community rallied for support. Fast forward to 2013 and skateboard parks are a municipality, enjoyed by many, used heavily, and supported by the neighborhoods that host them.

Each year Seattle spends at least 1.8 million dollars on graffiti abatement for public property alone! Your tax dollars are literally spent each year to keep the under side of our freeways painted grey. We believe that our tax dollars could be better spent elsewhere and that a better option would be to free up these obscure walls and freeway nether regions for art. At GDC we will continue to advocate for these spaces to be allocated as free walls or at least turned over to local arts groups to be curated.

In 2010 Seattle City Council members Tim Burgess and Tom Rasmussen commissioned a performance audit of Seattle’s anti-graffiti practices and policies. Shockingly, as reported by The Stranger Newspaper, the audit indicated that the city found no artistic merit in any of the street art that they documented or encountered while compiling the report. Even more concerning are the recommendations made by the auditors. The report suggests changes to the current policy will drastically alter Seattle’s urban landscape. The proposal includes adding amendments to laws already in place to include stickers and wheat pasted posters in the list of prohibited materials. This severe change will create the ability for the city to assess restitution for damages associated with stickers and or wheat paste. The proposed changes would also mean added spending to the $1.8 million already allocated to the Seattle anti-graffiti effort.

Additionally, the report calls for support of the full time SPD detective position dedicated to vandalism crimes. Since at least 2009 Seattle Police have designated a full time detective position to investigating property damage. It has been indicated that this position has been periodically vacant due to budget issues but that recently it has been filled full time by an acknowledged and well trained homicide detective who has been with the SPD since 1994. With continual rise in violent crime in Seattle, we would like to call attention to the fact that our tax dollars are being spent to support the salary of a detective investigating art crimes while other violent crimes go unsolved.

Remember, we don’t get a vote on these policies, your vote is your voice.

We encourage you to contact any and all of the Seattle City Council members below and tell them you support street art!

Be polite and prepared, and they will listen.

Here is what to say:

  1. I am a tax payer and Seattle resident and I support street art.
  2. Seattle is losing our free walls and places for free art expression and I want the City Council to look into finding options to replace them.
  3. I do not support the amount of tax dollars allocated to graffiti abatement because I think it should be more thoughtfully spent on programs that support the arts.
  4. I do not support the painting grey and graffiti abatement of the under sides of our freeways and areas that the public does not see.
  5. I do not support the “Graffiti Nuisance Ordinance” as it serves only as a revenue stream and to burden the property owner, additionally it is unfair to the elderly and alter-abled.
  6. I do not support Tim Burgess’ and Tom Rasmussen’s opinion that stickers and wheat paste should be criminalized. I specifically do not want S.M.C. Chapter 12A.08 to be modified to include stickers or wheat paste as a type of property damage.
  7. I do not support tax dollars being spent on The Seattle Police to have a full time vandalism detective when violent crimes are going unsolved.


Here is your Seattle City Council contact info:

City Council Person: Phone: Email:
Tim Burgess (206) 684-8806
Tom Rasmussen (206) 684-8808
Richard Conlin (206) 684-8805
Sally Bagshaw (206) 684-8801
Sally J. Clark (206) 684-8802
Jean Godden (206) 684-8807
Bruce A. Harrell (206) 684-8804
Nick Licata (206) 684-8803
Mike O’Brien (206) 684-8800