DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Two men suspected of spray-painting dozens of floors of an abandoned high-rise building in downtown Los Angeles were arrested. Now, city officials are looking to address the vacant building.
Floor after floor has been tagged on several sides of the empty three-tower complex near Crypto.com Arena and L.A. Live.
Los Angeles Police Department officers from the Central Division responded to a vandalism call Tuesday in the 1200 block of South Figueroa Street, between Pico and Olympic boulevards, after a tactical flight officer with the Air Support Division saw over a dozen suspects in the building, trespassing and possibly spray-painting on the building, according to the LAPD.
Additional patrol officers arrived and arrested two suspects, Victor Daniel Ramirez, 35, and Roberto Perez, 25, for trespassing. Both were later released, police said. The other suspects ran away before police arrived.
On Thursday, officers responded to a call for vandalism at 12:52 p.m. at the abandoned luxury skyscraper in the Oceanwide Plaza development that is under construction in the area of 11th and Flower streets and were told by on-site security a group of suspects had been spray-painting on the 30th floor of the building and had since driven away.
The officers found the vehicle and ordered the suspects to stop, but they ignored police and drove away, the LAPD said.
Police finally stopped the vehicle a short distance away and cited the driver for failing to yield to an officer. The vehicle's passenger was questioned and released.
Advocates say the graffiti is not only a nuisance to the area, but it is also a safety risk.
"It's of course an eyesore but it's unsafe. Even sending officers into the building as I understand ... they're at risk as well. They don't have hard hats," said Nella McOsker, president and CEO of Central City Association.
Construction work on the building stopped in 2020 after the project's China-based developer ran out of money.
Meanwhile, Councilman Kevin de León, whose 14th District includes the buildings struck by taggers, says he will introduce a motion during Friday's City Council meeting directing the city to address the defaced skyscraper.
"This morning I'll introduce a motion directing city departments to initiate the process of cleaning up Oceanwide Plaza and the public sidewalks and streets around it, even if it means the city stepping in to get the work done and sending the bill to the developers," he said.
De León said the developers have been given an order to comply that directs them to remove the graffiti, secure the site and clean up debris, including removing scaffolding, K-rails and gates. He said the long-term goal is finding a buyer for the buildings.
The unfinished skyscraper, which was set to have upscale condos, a five-star hotel and a shopping mall has reportedly been up for sale for more than a year. The price? More than $1 billion, according to De León, a price the city can't afford.
"The city taxpayers should not be investing in eminent domain of this building, because you have to come up with money for the current value, and on top of that, you have to come up with more money to actually finish the construction," he said.
De León said if the developers can't pay, the city attorney's office will have to step in.