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Graffiti-deterring cameras installed in Van Nuys tunnel

July 23, 2009 |  3:30 pm

A dozen surveillance cameras have been installed inside a San Fernando Valley tunnel hard-hit by graffiti vandalism.

The 711-foot tunnel on Sherman Way next to the Van Nuys Airport has been riddled with graffiti for years, and residents were fed up, said Stacy Bellew, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas, who represents the area.

“Our main message was, 'Taggers beware. You are entering a no-tag zone,' ” Bellew said. "If you decide to get out of your car and tag, we are going to catch you at every angle.”

The cameras and posted warning signs will serve as a deterrent to taggers and help police catch violators, Bellew said. Two more cameras will be installed within six weeks with the capability of capturing license plate numbers, she said.

The city spent $36,000 on graffiti removal in the tunnel last year, not including a general cleaning every six months, according to the city Department of Public Works. Business leaders, residents and Cardenas' office raised $30,661 in public and private funds to install the surveillance system, Bellew said.

“This system will be a deterrent for taggers and will provide extra surveillance for pedestrians who walk through the tunnel every day,” said Steve Leffert, a member of the Lake Balboa Neighborhood Council, which contributed $6,000 to the project.

Bellew said she was impressed with how the community took the project “into their own hands,” and expressed hope that residents of other neighborhoods would work to have similar surveillance equipment installed in their areas.

“It’s not just about catching taggers," she said. "It’s about public safety as well.”

—Gerrick D. Kennedy