Cleaning Up the Neighborhood

<p>Orozco painting over graffiti</p>

Orozco painting over graffiti

Homes, mailboxes, and even trees.

There are certain parts of Yakima where no matter where you look, graffiti can be found.

Ramon Orozco is the man in charge of keeping neighborhoods free of vandalized property, armed with a paint gun and a roller.

"People come from different towns and visit us, they can see that we are trying to see this city free of graffiti," said Orozco.

Every day, Orozco takes his team of volunteers and sweeps across town, painting over the blemishes and eyesores.

Today, his group consists of student volunteers spending their spring break cleaning up the mess.

"I think it's kind of terrible somebody would do this to somebody else's property," said volunteer Madeline Burke, "It's not theirs to destroy."

Two years ago, property owners were responsible for cleaning up graffiti at the risk of being fined, now the city will clean up the mess for them.

But codes administrators are well aware, graffiti can be gone today and back tomorrow -- right now, they're looking for ways to put a stop to the nuisance.

"Hopefully we can get stronger laws for those who are caught," said city code administrator Joe Caruso, "It is very frustrating, it is very frustrating for the city, it is very frustrating for the homeowners also."

In addition, Safe Yakima Valley launched their two-week "Graffiti Be Gone" campaign this week, sponsoring cleanups and raising awareness against graffiti tagging.

It's something Orozco says is a big first step in solving the city's problem.

"I think that's the most important and the most happy thing I feel about doing this," said Orozco, "Together, I think we're going to have a city free of graffiti as well."

The "Graffiti Be Gone" campaign will culminate in a large cleanup effort in North Yakima on April 12th.