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Biggest tag in L.A. and U.S. is history

October 8, 2009 12:31:02 AM PDT
The city and county of Los Angeles and the U.S. Army corps of engineers are showing that team work pays off. They worked together to remove miles of graffiti from the L.A. River. Eyewitness News was with the crews when they began removing one of the biggest tags in the country. With the help of City Councilman Ed Reyes and Jose Huisar the largest tag, according to officials not only in the city of L.A. but in the country, is now history.

You may have seen the letters MTA along the section of the L.A. River between the 4th and 6th street bridge. It doesn't stand for the transit agency but for the tagging crew that painted it more than a decade ago.

$3.7 million of taxpayer funds will be used to paint over more than 100 miles of rivers, channels, creeks and washes throughout L.A. City and County.

It's about one fifth of what's being spent in southern California for graffiti removal.

"In the city of Los Angeles we are spending over $10 million a year to take down graffiti," said Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar.

The tag that was covered Thursday is more than two football fields in length.

The sheriff's department is contracted by the transit agency to patrol the river area because the tracks run alongside it.

So with nearly $4 million of taxpayer money being used to basically get rid of the graffiti along the river, what's to keep taggers from coming back say tonight to start this process allover again? Not much.

"In a word there is nothing," said Commander Dan Finkelstein, L.A. County Sheriff's Department. "But I can tell you what we found, and we serve about seven tagging warrants a month as far as the sheriff's contingent that's under contract to MTA. We've arrested hundreds this year and there's quite a bit of chatter among the taggers to stay off the transit system."

To keep taggers from fishing around for a new spot to vandalize, Commander Finkelstein says when word gets out that convicted taggers are sentenced to state prison. That's been working as a deterrent in recent years.

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