Several days ago, both the LA Times reported on how taggers had spray painted their names on the corner windows of three +20-story buildings in LA near the Grammy Award ceremonies. In Portland, Willamette Week reported on how declining public funding and fighting within City Hall has stopped clean-up efforts and given taggers the exposure they crave. The owner of a 20-person clean-up company there, Graffiti Removal Services, said that a small group of taggers who drive between Seattle and LA are responsible for much of the defacing, which includes Jackson Tower, one of the signature historic buildings on Pioneer Square. It didn’t help that the City wouldn’t remove graffiti with “Black Lives Matter” messages. In Seattle, an appellate court ruling got the City of Seattle to start policing graffiti again after the city used a lower court ruling in favor of sidewalk chalking messages to stop all enforcement, including paint.

Cities have an advantage over the suburbs that the Greeks called “The agora”, or gathering place. But people won’t want to come together if the place isn’t clean, safe and interesting. Add graffiti to the homeless and drug issues as one more reason not to come downtown.