Photo by John Schreiber.
A mural in Venice Beach. Photo by John Schreiber.

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday threw its support behind increased penalties for people who deface murals and a boost in the reward offered for information leading to the capture of graffiti vandals.

The council instructed the city attorney to draft an ordinance doubling penalties for graffiti involving murals — which currently range from $250 to $1,000 — and also to double the reward from $1,000 to $2,000.

The measures are aimed at preventing the city’s culturally significant murals from being damaged, said Councilman Paul Krekorian, who pushed for the increases.

Despite efforts by the city to maintain murals, including setting aside $1.72 million to restore them, often “our important public art is … drowning in a sea of graffiti — not art — graffiti vandalism,” Krekorian said.

Graffiti on murals takes longer to remove and is costlier to the city, which means tags stay up longer, “and that’s of course what the vandals want to achieve,” Krekorian said.

The penalties “should be significantly higher when the graffiti affects a mural that ends up costing the city tens of thousands of dollars to try to restore,” he said.

While the city drafts language for the new fees and reward amount, Krekorian urged the public to take advantage of the current $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of vandals. Graffiti removal requests and reports of in-progress vandalism can be made at http://anti-graffiti.lacity.org/ and by calling 311, he said.

City News Service

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