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L.A. city attorney files lawsuit against supergraphic sign companies

February 23, 2010 | 11:57 am

City Councilman Jack Weiss talks with a protester in front of a supergraphic on a building on West Pico Boulevard at Overland Avenue in Los Angeles.Credit: Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich has filed a lawsuit accusing an array of businesses and individuals of erecting illegal supergraphic signs–vinyl or plastic images that can cover the entire side of a building–at 12 locations across the city.

The locations of the supergraphics. Click for an interactive map of where the supergraphics are located. Credit: Google Maps The nuisance abatement lawsuit filed Monday contends the oversized advertisements were placed illegally on the Sherman Oaks Galleria, the Howard Hughes Center in Westchester and buildings in North Hollywood, Sherman Oaks and elsewhere.

In his first billboard nuisance case since he took office July 1, Trutanich said he intends to seek fines of up to $5,000 a day for each day an illegal supergraphic is on a building. In cases in which a sign is illegally placed next to a freeway, Trutanich also intends to seek $10,000 plus $100 for each day an unpermitted sign is up.

The filing was the latest move in the city’s long-running struggle to enforce its outdoor advertising laws. Neighborhood activists have voiced particular ire over supergraphics, saying companies have illegally covered several stories of a building without facing any consequences.

Trutanich’s lawsuit was filed against 27 defendants, including World Wide Rush, which already has a separate billboard case pending before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The company is seeking to strike down the city’s ban on the installation of new supergraphics.

Gary Mobley, the attorney for World Wide Rush, said he had not yet read the new lawsuit. But he said he believed the city’s case violated a federal injunction barring it from seeking the removal of nearly two dozen supergraphics installed by his client.

Mobley said he went to court last week demanding that U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins hold the city in contempt for continuing to pursue a separate criminal case against World Wide Rush over a sign that faces the 10 Freeway at the corner of National and Westwood boulevards.

“It appears that the city is setting up a major confrontation with Judge Collins on respecting her permanent injunction,” he said.

Lawyers for the city did not immediately respond for comment.

In the lawsuit, Trutanich said the illegal supergraphics are a public nuisance, distracting motorists, adding to the city’s visual clutter and making it more difficult for firefighters to enter windows in the event of a fire or other emergency.

-- David Zahniser at L.A. City Hall

Photo: Former City Councilman Jack Weiss talks with a protester in 2008 in front of a supergraphic on a building on West Pico Boulevard at Overland Avenue in Los Angeles. Credit: Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times

Map: The locations of the supergraphics. Click for an interactive map of where the supergraphics are located. Credit: Google Maps

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