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Los Angeles to hit taggers' parents in the wallet

The city attorney and a councilman will pursue an ordinance allowing lawsuits for damages if private property turned over to L.A. for graffiti cleanup is tagged.

March 25, 2009|David Zahniser

Two Los Angeles politicians said Tuesday that they would embark on a new strategy for fighting graffiti: taking the vandals, and their parents, to civil court and demanding financial damages.

City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo and Councilman Dennis Zine said they would pursue passage of an ordinance that would allow private property owners to turn responsibility for graffiti cleanup over to the city. That, in turn, would allow city prosecutors to sue for damages if the property was vandalized.

"To the parents of graffiti vandals . . . the city is committed like never before to holding you responsible as well," Delgadillo said.

The program is similar to an initiative launched last summer by L.A. County that also targets parents. Under the city's plan, any money obtained from vandals and their parents would go toward creation of a graffiti database at the Los Angeles Police Department.

City lawyers contend that criminal prosecutions have not been enough to stem the tide of graffiti in Los Angeles, where 675,000 locations were tagged last year. In some cases, jail time has not dissuaded graffiti vandals from tagging again.

"They might be more deterred by the financial penalty," said Deputy Chief City Atty. Bruce Riordan, who oversees Delgadillo's approach to gang crime.

Los Angeles spends $7 million each year to paint out graffiti, Delgadillo said.

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david.zahniser@latimes.com

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