Los Angeles city officials further sounded the alarm Monday after video circulated on social media, appearing to show someone paragliding from unfinished towers that attracted graffiti artists and taggers in downtown LA.
The buildings appearing in the footage appear to be the same unfinished high risers that were tagged with nearly 30 floors of graffiti.
“I’m terrified someone’s going to fall or be pushed,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said. “There are people who are parachuting off of the building.”
The LAPD said it was aware of social media showing someone jumping from one of the towers, but did not have additional information as of Tuesday.
Bass said city leaders had no choice but to use already-stretched-thin resources from the Los Angeles Police Department with officers dispatched to surround the site as the building developers did not propose safety measures to keep people off the property.
“I guarantee you tragedy will take place there if that place is not boarded up quickly,” Bass warned. “New fences will be put up, but it’ll take a few days. The owner should reimburse the city for every dime.”
Construction for Oceanwide Plaza on the 1100 block of Flower Street was halted in 2019 when the Chinese developers who had initially planned for condos, a mall and a hotel, ran out of funding. Since work stopped, the uninhibited complex of empty towers became an attraction for graffiti artists.
The LA City Council unanimously approved a motion Friday to give the property owners until Feb. 17 to respond to the city’s request to secure the vacant building and restore the nearby sidewalks. As of Tuesday, at least 18 people had been arrested at the towers, mostly on suspicion of felony vandalism.
City Councilmember Kevin de León said city officials notified the property owners in several different ways, such as email, phone calls, fax and messages through social media platforms.
“I’m not holding my breath,” de León responded when asked whether city officials believed the developer that ran out of money in 2019 would secure the site. “But that does not mean we cannot continue putting the pressure on them.”
If the Oceanwide Inc. does not respond by the deadline, de León said city staffers will step in to remove all obstructions that are blocking sidewalks and streets, such as K-rail and scaffolding.
The long-term plan was to find a group of investors who would take over the project on prime land in Los Angeles, according to de Leon.
LAPD Central Division, which oversees Downtown LA and other areas, reported at least seven individuals have been arrested on suspicion of vandalism, trespass, burglary and other crimes. Central Division detectives were also placed to investigate crimes committed at the site, the LAPD said.