Abbot Kinney Business Paints over Public Utility Box, News Racks

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Cha Cha Matcha paints news boxes and traffic cabinet with branding.

By Sam Catanzaro

Cha Cha Matcha, in a possible illegal act, has painted over a City of Los Angeles traffic cabinet and multiple news boxes with their company’s branding.

The cafe, which opened at 1401 Abbot Kinney Boulevard earlier this year, painted the traffic cabinet green with the words “Cha Cha” and “Save Your Planet” in pink. The three news boxes, which included a Yo! Venice box, were painted pink with “Cha Cha Matcha” painted in green.

The traffic cabinet was previously painted with artwork by local painter Alisha Sofia as part of the the City’s Beautification Art Project.

Yo! Venice reached out to Councilmember Mike Bonin asking about the legality of the incident and got the following response from David Graham-Caso, Bonin’s Deputy Chief of Staff.  

“We have initiated enforcement on the traffic cabinet and are looking into the best way to proceed with the news boxes. News boxes aren’t owned by the city, but they usually do need to adhere to neighborhood design guidelines, so staff is currently looking into the specific guidelines that would apply to these,” Graham-Caso said.

The City of Los Angeles traffic cabinet painted by the cafe.

Yo! Venice was informed of the incident by a resident Michael Payne. In an email, Payne indicated that Cha Cha Matcha may be criminally liable for their actions.

“They seem to think they own the neighborhood. Recently their ads were painted on the news racks in front of their store at 1401 Abbot Kinney  and on the traffic signal control at Abbot Kinney and California,” Payne wrote. “I am not an attorney, but I believe this might constitute Injury to Public Property. (LAMC Sec. 41.14 ). It could even be Felony Vandalism (PC 594). They have also affixed a number of fabric bags to the side of the building and planted foliage in them which is encroaching on the right of way.”

Injury to Public Property, as defined in Los Angeles Municipal Code, says that ” no person shall cut, break, destroy, remove, deface, tamper with, mar, injure, disfigure,  interfere with, damage, tear, remove, change or alter” pieces of City property.

According to California’s Penal Code Section 594,  “Every person who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect to any real or personal property not his or her own, in cases other than those specified by state  law, is guilty of vandalism.”

The traffic cabinet as it previously was painted.

Under state law, if the damages are greater than $400, violators could be sentenced to up to one year in jail and fined up to $50,000. If the damages are under $400, violators can be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to up to one year in jail.

Yo! Venice has reached out to Cha Cha Matcha seeking a response, but at the time of publishing, they have not responded. Check the online version of this article for more updates.

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