Yakima County's war on graffiti to continue after big cleanup

Yakima County's war on graffiti to continue after big cleanup »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- "Goodbye, graffiti!” said volunteer crews.

At least until the next tagger strikes. Ramon Orozco knows that all too well.

"The next day is the same thing," Ramon said.

Yakima and organizations like Safe Yakima Valley push hard to wipe out the vandalism with their Graffiti Be Gone campaign. For city cleanup crews, it's just another day on the job.

"We don't just stop,” said Archie Matthews, manager of Yakima's Office of Neighborhood Development. “What I would like people to understand is graffiti doesn't stop. We would wish that it would stop, we would hope that it would stop, but it doesn't."

Just last year, the city used almost 700 gallons of paint to clean up graffiti in over 12,000 locations.

"It's a good thing to do," said volunteer Roel Rivera.

Roel understands that now, but it hasn't always been that way.

"Before, when I was a little kid, painting, doing all this," he said.

Now he's the one cleaning up after the next generation.

"It looks nice," Roel said.

Safe Yakima Valley's two-week anti-graffiti campaign has been building to a big, communitywide cleanup on Saturday. The organization vows it won't end there. There will be more volunteer cleanups and work with communities to establish programs that address graffiti.

"Cities that are interested in dealing with the problem and could use a little help, we're always available and always willing to try to step up to the plate and help if we can," said Dave Hanson, president of Safe Yakima Valley.

"I hope the whole county gets on board and understands that we have to fight this just like a war, and the more individuals we have in our army, the better off we are," said Matthews.

An army of volunteers to keep the cleanup going. That's been a problem. The number of volunteers has dropped by 41 percent over four years, from around 15,000 volunteers to 9,000.

Numbers that have to grow if they want to win the war.