Inslee signs legislation creating pilot program for graffiti solutions


Gov. Jay Inslee has signed legislation creating a pilot program to crack down on graffiti across the state.

House Bill 1989, sponsored by Rep. Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia, will direct the Washington state Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to:

  • Test state-of-the-art spray drone technology to cover up existing graffiti in the field.
  • Implement advanced surveillance systems to identify and apprehend individuals involved in graffiti vandalism.
  • Prioritize Interstate 5 from Tacoma to Seattle and the north Spokane corridor for innovative graffiti reduction techniques.

"This legislation is a testament to our commitment as lawmakers to restoring the dignity of our public infrastructure and ensuring Washington remains a place of pride for all its residents," Barkis said in a statement. "I am confident this pilot program will make significant strides in combating graffiti vandalism and reestablishing a culture of respect for our shared spaces."

In a blog post, WSDOT employees April Leigh and Tina Werner said the department has spent $1.4 million on graffiti removal in the past two years, with costs expected to increase in the future.

"We've seen an increase in graffiti vandalism along our state roads over the past few years. Newly completed bridges, overpasses, walls and other structures are often hot spots for these crimes as they offer a fresh blank canvas for taggers,” the post reads. “Active construction projects with new or closed sections of roads also attract activity because there is no traffic there at night."

Under the program, WSDOT will be required to submit a report to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2024 detailing the effectiveness of removal methods and the associated costs. The pilot program will run through July 1, 2025.

"The explosion of graffiti in our state has become a serious concern that demands an immediate and comprehensive response," Barkis said. "This bill acknowledges the frustration Washingtonians feel about graffiti on our roadways and sends a clear message that enough is enough. We cannot continue allowing the actions of a few to shape the narrative of our communities."