The other day, as I was coming home from work, I saw some teenagers hovering around in the alley behind my house. They looked at me strangely as I drove past them, so I gave them the stink eye. As I pulled into my parking spot, I was overwhelmed by the strong fumes of paint.

I turned off the engine to my car and removed the keys from the ignition. Before I could even open up my car door, I was overwhelmed by a strong whiff of paint. It smelled like a spilled bottle of nail polish.

"Mommy, look!", my daughter yelled.

I got out of the car with my mouth agape and I looked around to see that there were gigantic sprays of graffiti all over our car port, the garbage can, the brick walls surrounding our parking spot and the adjoining neighbor's fence. My neighbor's garage had also been slapped with graffiti.

Dang it, those teenagers I had just seen had tagged up our entire alley!

If you have or live in property that was tagged, here's what the City of Yakima says you can do to get rid of the gross graffiti in your neighborhood.

First of all, it is important to know that only the property owner (of a home or business) can grant the Yakima City Code Department to paint over graffiti. They will take care of this at no charge. You can call (509) 575-3535 for residential properties.

If you are renting an apartment or house, you must get your property owner to sign a permission slip before an employee can come take care of the graffiti, also at no expense.

If neighborhood residents send in complaints to the City of Yakima about your property, and you (or the property owner) cannot be reached, the city will refer the matter to the Yakima City Code Dept. If no permission is obtained, there can be a legal action suit (graffiti abatement procedure, Notice to Remove, Chapter 11.11.030 of the Yakima Municipal Code) forcing property owners to be responsible to pay all expenses incurred to cover up the graffiti.

The Office of Neighborhood Development cannot paint over graffiti in the following instances: street signs, trees, sidewalks, mailboxes, vehicles, windows, on streets or on the pavement.

If you see graffiti on a street sign, contact the City of Yakima Streets and Traffic division and they can get the sign replaced or cleaned off.