LAPD resources ‘strained’ by downtown LA graffiti tower fiasco

Los Angeles Police Department officers have spent at least 3,000 hours on duty at the abandoned Oceanview Plaza site in Downtown LA where the unfinished high rise towers have attracted street artists, vandals, and others, and the need for round-the-clock security has begun to stress the already-understaffed police department.

“This has strained our deployment,” Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday.

“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,” he said.

Core patrol functions, such as responding to 911 calls, have not been affected, according to Moore.

Officers stationed at the construction site that spans two city blocks between 11th and Figueroa and 12th and Flower Streets have made at least 18 arrests in recent days, including one for illegal gun possession and several others for felony vandalism.

Many other individuals caught by officers at the site were questioned, checked for warrants, and released without arrests or citations, Moore said.

The LA City Council was also asked Tuesday to direct more than $3 million in order to construct a more robust fence, clear debris, and possibly pay for private security so LAPD officers can leave.

The motion was introduced by Councilman Kevin de León, who represents the area, and it was expected to be heard by the Council next week.

The funding would consist of $1.1 million from a Building and Safety Fund and a loan of $2.7 million from another City fund, both spent with the expectation the money would someday be recovered from the owner of the property.

“It is my understanding that the owner of that complex is bankrupt,” Moore said.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore talks with the Board of Police Commissioners on Tuesday, February 13, 2024.

“I do know that the city family is aggressively looking to recoup all costs — ours as well as others — that are anticipated with that,” he said.

Construction of the Oceanwide project began in 2015, but the funding ran out in 2018. By 2019, construction at the site had been suspended.

Dozens of lawsuits have been filed by a variety of building construction firms in connection with the project failure. Some have been filed against the now-defunct developer, others name its investment entities or the lead project contractor.

The City Council voted last week to order the property owner to make the security and safety improvements by February 17, but one official told the I-Team that city staffers “have had a very difficult time” getting in contact with an Oceanwide representative.

One address listed in corporate filings for Oceanwide is a mail box rental business a few blocks from the construction site; another is a law office inside a high rise on Figueroa. The company’s listed phone number does not appear connected, and an attorney who represented Oceanwide several years ago has not returned messages.

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