Tacoma cracking down on crosswalk-painting vigilante

TACOMA, Wash. -- With a nickname as "the City of Destiny," it seems some in Tacoma have taken to creating their own path.

On Wednesday, at least four intersections throughout the city were painted over by someone marking their own crosswalks, city officials said. This is at least the second time in the past month that someone has done this in Tacoma, with each intersection decorated with white - and, in some cases, pink - paint in the middle of the night.

"Wow - it's the Lone Ranger," joked pedestrian Tony Haas, as he walked near the intersection of 7th and Tacoma, which has since been painted over. "If they're doing a reasonably half-decent job, it's better than nothing."

The rogue crosswalks are not only unsightly, they're illegal, said interim public works director Kurtis Kingsolver. At least one of the crosswalks - at Tacoma and Division Avenues - was painted crooked, leading pedestrians into oncoming traffic, he added.

"I appreciate their frustration (with unmarked paths) - I really do - and we certainly want to look into that, but this is the wrong message," Kingsolver said. "We're looking at this entire area more comprehensively to see what we can do to help with pedestrian control, but painting them on your own is certainly not the answer. We look at it as graffiti."

Walking with a friend Monday morning, city resident Eden Williams-Watson took a different approach.

"I wish that it was painted, because that would make it easier to walk on or cross or safer for kids if they're crossing by themselves," Williams-Watson said. "If (the people who are doing this) care enough to come out here for our safety, that's cool."

The city isn't sure who is behind the rogue crosswalks, but says it has video surveillance of some of the painting as it is happened. Workers have since repainted and re-paved all four intersections that were hit last week, costing upwards of $1,000 at each location.

"If they give me a thousand dollars, I'll paint five intersections a day," joked Haas. "I think maybe they should take what they can get. Charity's not something to turn your cheek at, that's what I say."