Downtown LA’s graffitied high-rises attracting more taggers

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DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) — The city of Los Angeles is taking aim at the abandoned three-tower complex in downtown, which has been marred with very visible graffiti for months, by arresting taggers and preparing to order the owners to clean it all up.

The building in question is called Oceanwide Plaza, which has been abandoned for nearly four years after the Chinese company that is developing it went bankrupt. Since December, vandals have been consistently tagging it’s three, 27-story towers with graffiti.

Four people were arrested for trespassing Tuesday when nearly three dozen LAPD officers responded to the complex just before 2 p.m. Tuesday to search for vandalism suspects.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore says that bust wasn’t enough to dissuade other taggers from trying to “leave their mark” on the now globally known graffiti target.

“We had dozens of individuals arrive last night and attempt to scale – and some did – the fence while we made additional arrests,” Moore said in a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

The unfinished, three-tower complex is located near Crypto.com Arena and L.A. Live.

Construction work on Oceanwide Plaza stopped in October 2020 after the project’s China-based developer ran out of money.

L.A. City Councilmember Kevin de León introduced a motion to order the building’s owners to clean up the graffiti, which the council is expected to vote on Friday.

“It will send a very clear message to Oceanwide Development, you have two weeks, two weeks to clean up all the graffiti on every single floor,” de León told Eyewitness News. “If they don’t, then we the city will intervene and will act for them, but we’ll also give them a bill.”

The graffitied high-rise is drawing global attention.

The tagged towers served as an opening backdrop for Trevor Noah as he hosted the Grammy Awards Sunday.

“I have never seen that much graffiti on a commercial building,” said Jack Witthaus, a reporter for the commercial real estate news organization Costar, which has been tracking the troubled Oceanwide Plaza building since construction stopped.

Witthaus’ office is directly across from the vandalized high-rise.

“In mid to late December we noticed a little bit of graffiti on the building,” he said. “We thought that was really odd. The graffiti has grown to almost the bottom of the building, all the way to the top.”

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