L.A. councilman calls for stiffer penalties in graffiti cases

L.A. councilman wants stiffer penalties for taggers

Frustrated by tagging in his San Fernando Valley district, a Los Angeles city councilman called this week for new measures to crack down on graffiti vandals, especially when murals are defaced.

Councilman Paul Krekorian introduced a motion Friday seeking to double the reward to $2,000 from $1,000 for those who provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of taggers who mark up murals.

Krekorian also wants City Atty. Mike Feuer to present lawmakers with options for imposing stiffer administrative penalties on graffiti crimes overall. "Vandals need to know that they will be held fully accountable for defacing signs, billboards, buildings, homes and our city's treasured murals," the councilman said in a statement.

L.A.'s Office of Community Beautification spends $7.7 million a year on graffiti removal, covering up an estimated 32.8 million square feet of graffiti, according to public works officials.

The city's municipal code allows for an administrative fine of $250 for the first graffiti offense, $500 for the second and $1,000 for the third. In addition, the state penal code has a range of graffiti penalties, including jail time, depending on the amount of damage involved.

City Council members can amend only the municipal code, Krekorian spokesman Ian Thompson said.

L.A. lawmakers recently allocated $1.75 million for mural restoration across the city. Thompson said a mural is vandalized at least once a month in Krekorian's district, which includes Studio City, North Hollywood and Valley Glen.

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