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

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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Comments () | Archives (41)

I very much support Mr. Trutanich's effort on this, those signs are disgusting.


Awesome news. There are many more of those tacky supergraphics to remove from the side of buildings in Hollywood especially. Mr. Trutanich's efforts must be applauded.

Yay! Good news!

Next I want the digital signs, such as the Citadel signs, to go away. They blind me every time I drive there.

Safety is one thing. But a blight? Disgusting? Come on. They're movie and other advertisements, the same as you see anywhere.

"Crackdown claims 2 more supergrahics"
Stellar copy checking on the headline, as is the norm these days on latimes.com.

Trutanich for mayor? I like this guy.

Don't negotiate with the visual terrorists!

Calling these efforts anti-business is like saying that mafia crackdowns were anti-business. If it's illegal, it's illegal and not "business".

If we're looking at advertisements in public, then we should get paid in the form of subsidized content (like ads in TV, magazine, internet publishing), direct revenue (why does the building owner get all the cash when we have to look at that illegal junk?) or decreased taxes (if the city has to spend our time and tax money to police them for breaking the law, then these pirates need to pay our city back with interest). Why do the law breakers get to call the shots? Do you think if the IRS caught one of us dodging taxes that we could just tell them that we're willing to pay some of the back taxes?


How about tackling the stand alone billboards and the smaller ones bolted to buildings that blight every corner of the city? Taking on Clear Channel and the other big boys who've filled our cities and lined the freeways until it's become a constant barrage of crappy ads. At least a good percentage of the supergraphics are interesting to look at and are typically isolated to areas of higher density and taller buildings. With these there's some legacy to the building-sized, painstakingly created murals that used to be preserved in L.A. Come downtown and the return of murals and large scale graphics (e.g. at LA Live) are a part of what's contributing to the sense that this is a developing and again vibrant commercial and cultural area rather than a dilapidated and neglected mess as was rightfully the consensus for too many years.

This is such a waste of the city's time and resources. Oh, wait, unless this is actually just a big cash and PR grab.

So now I get to drive down Highland and see the concrete side of a building? Great! I thought this city was broke? Then why not hire a small staff, regulate, and tax the supergraphics? Isn't raising taxes and driving away businesses what they do best anyway? Now they are driving away business and making no money. Genius!

Thank you Mr. Trutanich. After a years of wild, wild west tactics, and being subjected to the whims of a dirty sheriff (Delgadillo), we are finally getting some law and order in this City when it comes to illegal outdoor advertising.

Any CD members (Wesson, Perry, etc.) who disagree should lose their job in the next election cycle. If Mr. Wesson thinks he has support for his sign district, he needs to go to more NC meetings.

One additional category that is a gray area is advertisements on trailers. Put a sign on a trailer advertising alarm companies, employment sites, etc., then park it somewhere with no parking restrictions and you're good to go. I have seen some that have a large hole cut in the middle, probably by some disgruntled person who's tired of seeing it in front of their house. Some of the companies increase the ante by with a sign for a $1,000 reward for reporting any vandalism to the trailer. Some neighborhoods fight back by by placing "No Unhitched Trailers" restrictions.

Nice to see that someone is enforcing the law against the rich, too.

Hurray for the City Attorney. Applaud everything he is doing. The Mayor and City Council should be ashamed of the urban blight they have wrecked on our city.

I just hope Mr. Trutanich is never proven wrong in these cases. That would just make things worse. More billboards, more blinding billboards, more mind numbing ads in our face. To all those who don't like what Mr. Trutanich is doing: Are you getting paid by these advertising firms? There is a reason that permits are required for these eye sores - one is the safety issue. When this sign blew down, it could have killed someone.

Really... the best you could do was a Google Streets photo? Really? I mean, just a few seconds around Flickr and I found: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mac/113750001/

I'm just sayin'.


I like the signs...Hollywood is a disgusting ghetto anyway, I think the signs spruce up the area.

Good job Mr. Trutanich. Keep up the good work.

On the positive side, now there is enough material for a new dress for Kristie Alley.

Outstanding! I am in the visual media business, and I despise the super-graphics attached to buildings.

Finally a person who does exactly what they promised during the campaign.

Kudos Carmen... Good Job!

Go Carmen, GO!

Finally someone with the guts to enforce the law! On Fairfax between 3rd and Wilshire, dozens of illegal mini-billboards have been taken down. Finally!!!!!

Keep it up Carmen!!!

How about eliminating ALL billboards in Los Angeles? They truly are a blight.

Supergraphics and digital billboards are both visual assaults to residents and commuters. They should be removed and banned all over LA.

Go Nuch!

I must say I'm in favor of Mr. Trutanich's efforts. And I agree those digital signs should be next. If I could find an e-mail address to his office, I would sent a note of support.

Those digital signs always make it feel like we're closer and closer to living in that "Blade Runner" vision of Los Angeles...

i'm not a pro photog, but i woulda cleaned the window, or at least rolled it down before taking that shot :)

I read the story because of curiosity about the headline being misspelled, no doubt the Times hires straight from the the LAUSD...nonetheless I love the 'safety' angle! It could fall - hahaha. Every car could crash too so lets make a law to park them all (oops forgot that's already underway what with 'global warming' and the carbon scam). Steps - nope they're out too after all you could trip (wait Santa Monica already did that). Soft drinks - nope you kids might get fat. What a society we have here - never mind that gang, bacteria laden food cart, uninsured driver, truant teen, embezzling administrator, bribery for votes, a million illegal aliens or the fact that the city is supposedly bankrupt - just get those evil signs! What a service, what a demonstration of your government on the job, how proud the city attorney must be for tackling such a pressing issue.

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