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Two of L.A.'s biggest supergraphics coming down as crackdown intensifies [Updated]

March 19, 2010 | 11:58 am

A Google Street View image from 1025 N. Highland Ave. Credit: Google Maps

Two of the tallest and most controversial supergraphics in Los Angeles, standing 11 stories in Hollywood, are being removed by the sign company after City Atty. Carmen Trutanich issued a cease-and-desist letter to the advertising company affiliated with the signs.

CBS Outdoor sent the city a letter confirming that it will take down the 11-story advertisements from 1025 N. Highland Ave., said Chief Deputy City Atty. William Carter. The letter arrived Wednesday, nearly a week after Trutanich sent a dozen letters regarding signs that his office has identified as illegal.

The CBS Outdoor signs have been viewed as a major safety hazard by city prosecutors and surrounding neighbors. One of the images broke free in a wind storm, split in two and fell to the ground in October, said Robert Eicholz, a Hollywood resident who works in a nearby office building.

[Updated at 3:21 p.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated the sign fell earlier this year.]

“The wind got up under that thing and ripped it into pieces,” said Eicholz, who said the tattered sign was an advertisement for the Apple iPod. “It ripped and it went crashing down onto Highland Avenue.” Carter said the images, which covered dozens of windows on a public storage building, would make it difficult for firefighters to enter in case of a fire. 

He also said that removal of the signs may not be enough to correct a violation. “There are past violations that have to be addressed, as well as potential penalties, as well as disgorgement of any unlawful proceeds” from the sign revenue, he said.

CBS Outdoor attorney Laura Brill did not immediately return a call seeking comment. But in the letter, she said her client did not agree with the premise of the cease-and-desist letter sent by the city. Brill also said her client is trying to negotiate a sign reduction and relocation agreement with the Community Redevelopment Agency that would provide “substantial benefits” to the city.

The correspondence represents the latest development in Trutanich’s campaign against nonpermitted supergraphics. Neighborhood groups contend that signs constitute blight, with companies making millions of dollars even as they ignore the city’s restrictions.

Last month, Trutanich secured the arrest of a businessman who spent three days in jail after an allegedly nonpermitted supergraphic went up on his building on Hollywood Boulevard. Kayvan Setarah, 49, had the sign removed but did not admit wrongdoing.

Five other supergraphics were removed across the street after Trutanich secured arrest warrants for four individuals allegedly affiliated with those signs. And two weeks ago, another advertising company, Fuel Outdoor, agreed to remove hundreds of considerably smaller poster-sized signs. Carter said city inspectors concluded that Fuel Outdoor had installed between 400 and 500 illegal signs.

The company, previously known as Metro Lights, had argued in court that the city could not seek the removal of its signs while at the same time selling advertising space on city-owned bus benches and kiosks.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal sided with the city, saying the sign law did not violate the company’s 1st Amendment right to free speech. Michael Small, an attorney for Fuel Outdoor, did not respond to calls seeking comment.

--David Zahniser

Photo: A Google Street View image from 1025 N. Highland Ave.

Credit: Google Maps

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