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L.A. City Council bans new supergraphics from Hollywood, but digital signs still OK

September 28, 2010 | 12:57 pm

A supergraphic advertisement on the side of a building at Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave. for Asics sportswear, shown March 3. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to ban new supergraphic advertisements in Hollywood, following a decade in which dozens of the vinyl signs were placed on the sides of hotels, apartment buildings and office towers.

On a 13-to-0 vote, the council rewrote its Hollywood sign rules to prohibit new supergraphics while continuing to permit digital wall signs of up to 300 square feet on buildings along sections of Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Vine Street and Cahuenga Avenue.

Despite approval of the ban, as many as 16 supergraphics are still in the works because they received city approval before the new regulations went into effect, City planner Blake Lamb said. That news disappointed Dennis Hathaway, president of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight, which has lobbied council members to stop approving such signs.

"There are going to be more supergraphic signs in Hollywood, and there are going to be more intrusive digital signs in Hollywood," Hathaway said.

City officials said seven supergraphics are slated to be installed on the Blvd. 6200 residential project on Hollywood Boulevard, while two are expected to go up on the Metropolitan Hotel, located on Sunset Boulevard just west of the 101 Freeway. The remaining seven are expected on Sunset, Hollywood and Highland Avenue, Lamb said.

Although those projects are shielded from the city’s ban, the sign changes still drew fire from a handful of business groups, including the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Leron Gubler, the chamber’s president and chief executive, said two proposed hotels in Hollywood could be dropped if the developer cannot get rental income from supergraphics.

"Most of the [projects] that are in the pipeline, [City Council President] Eric [Garcetti] has grandfathered," Gubler said. "But these two projects are not as far along."

Garcetti said he did not expect the changes would have much effect on Hollywood’s real estate economy, because most new development proposals do not involve supergraphics. "The sky is not going to fall," he said. "We are going to see Hollywood development through."

The changes to the Hollywood sign district come roughly a year after the City Council banned supergraphic advertisements in other parts of the city. Although outdoor advertising companies have attempted to overturn the city’s sign laws, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this year that the city can ban certain signs on a citywide basis while still allowing them in special sign districts.

-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: A supergraphic advertisement on the side of a building at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue for sportswear. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

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