City Council OKs $3.8 million to clean up and secure graffitied downtown skyscrapers

Graffiti covers an unfinished skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles.
The City Council voted Friday to approve $3.8 million to clean up and secure the unfinished Oceanwide Plaza skyscraper project in downtown L.A. The city has said it will bill the building owner for the costs.
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles City Council voted Friday to allot nearly $4 million to remove graffiti and secure unfinished downtown Los Angeles skyscrapers that have been heavily tagged in recent weeks.

Councilmember Kevin de León introduced a motion this week to allocate the funds to secure the property and restore the public right of way, which is obstructed by plastic barriers, scaffolding and debris.

“I’m not holding my breath waiting for the developer to clean up their property,” De León said Wednesday. “The purpose of my motion is clear: to prepare our city to take decisive action if the Oceanwide Plaza developer ignores their responsibility and to put them on the hook for costs incurred by the city.”


People were seen parachuting off a heavily graffitied unfinished skyscraper, Oceanwide Plaza, in downtown Los Angeles.

Feb. 13, 2024

The motion will move $1.1 million into a fund to fence and secure the ground floors of the building and place an additional $2.7 million into a fund for security services, fire safety upgrades and graffiti abatement.

The motion also calls on the city attorney and city administrative officer to report back to the council within 30 days with a legal strategy to recoup all of the city’s related expenses from the property owners.

The Oceanwide Plaza project, located across Figueroa street from Arena, has become a site for graffiti tagging and even paragliding in recent weeks and posed a headache for city officials and authorities alike. Ahead of the Grammy Awards held at Arena, dozens of floors of the skyscraper were tagged with colorful spray paint.

Taggers have graffitied what appears to be more than 25 stories of a downtown Los Angeles
More than two dozen floors of the skyscraper were tagged with graffiti ahead of the Grammy Awards that were held at Arena held across Figueroa Street.
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

The owner, Oceanwide Holdings, is a publicly traded Beijing-based company that halted the project in 2019 when it ran out of money.

At least 18 people have been arrested, including 12 on Sunday, on suspicion of trespassing at the site, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.


The City Council adopted a motion earlier this month, also introduced by De León, that ordered the owners of the property to fence and clean up the area by Saturday. If they miss the deadline, the city will secure the property and charge the owners for the cost, the motion said.

Just one day before the deadline, the owners have not indicated whether they will comply with the city’s orders.

The increase of activity at the site has also stretched resources at the Los Angeles Police Department, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said during Tuesday’s Los Angeles Police Commission meeting.

Officers have spent “more than 3,000 hours” to secure the complex, Moore said.

“We have called in some officers on an overtime basis, so that we can provide for these added patrols or station them at that site to deter vandals and others from gaining access to it while also ensuring that we meet the minimum deployment requirements for stations across the city,” Moore said.

During a City Council meeting last week, Councilmember Imelda Padilla said she was surprised at how much attention the skyscraper was getting and attributed it to its large size.


Padilla mentioned that at least four “mini versions” of the unfinished skyscraper exist across Los Angeles. The buildings include abandoned commercial, manufacturing and family business structures.

Padilla was referring to abandoned buildings on Sepulveda Boulevard and Kester Avenue, as well as a Denny’s restaurant at Vineland Avenue and Sunland Boulevard, according to a spokesperson for Padilla’s office.

The fourth building, a Roscoe hardware store, is located at Sunland Boulevard and San Fernando Road, according to her spokesperson. Padilla is currently working on getting it demolished.

“It’s upsetting that blight gets more attention when it affects wealthier parts of the city,” Padilla said in a statement Thursday. “Yet, working-class neighborhoods like the ones I represent struggle with this issue every day. Blight is unacceptable no matter the ZIP Code, and we deserve to have the same sense of urgency.”

The Oceanwide Plaza development sits among shops and restaurants near the LA Live complex.