Tacoma tackles graffiti eyesores with its own paint brushes

TACOMA, Wash. -- Tacoma has stirred up a creative solution for tackling graffiti eyesores by fighting unwanted paint with city paint.

It's created a new-found energy emerging from cinderblock walls in a part of Tacoma where the weeds grow and the homeless hang.

Vibrant colors and worn brushes are the weapons and imagination the ammunition in this war against graffiti, Tacoma style.

"I think it'll change the whole gateway to Tacoma," said mural artist Liza Brown.

The city hired nine artists to paint murals on buildings once targeted by taggers.

"It beautifies the city rather than just having a bunch of warehouse walls that are patch up with graffiti paint and depressing," Brown said.

Business owners apply to have their eyesores erased and have a say in what goes up. The owner of one space which houses metal sculptors and auto body repairs wanted a wall reflecting his neighborhood's history from the foundry to the breweries.

A lot of communities have tried different tactics to combat graffiti. Bremerton gave out cleaning kits and the owner of one building says the painting project seems to be working.

"We haven't had any tagging on this wall since it's been painted," Larry Hosley said. "We had other sides of our building tagged but this one hasn't been tagged yet."

Tacoma has spent $100,000 on its mural project so far and has another $50,000 banked for more murals.

"This was a desolate corner and now that the light rail is going in we have to give our best impression to Tacoma," Brown said.

The City of Destiny is trying to put its best brush forward, supporting artists and combating vandalism in one sweeping stroke.

The artists have another six murals to paint by the end of summer.