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CBS Outdoor to pay L.A. $4 million in supergraphic sign settlement [Updated]

March 4, 2011 |  1:46 pm

An outdoor advertising company sued by the city of Los Angeles over six contested supergraphics has agreed to pay more than $4 million to settle the case, officials said Friday.

CBS Outdoor had said it had the proper permits to maintain oversized signs on four buildings in Hollywood and downtown.

Lawyers for City Atty. Carmen Trutanich disagreed, saying the firm had gone beyond what the city agreed to by placing supergraphics instead of painted murals on three of those buildings.

One location in the lawsuit was the Figueroa Hotel, a building where CBS Outdoor had vinyl supergraphics on both the north and south sides for years, said William Carter, Trutanich’s chief deputy.

“Our position is none of the vinyl was permitted,” he said.

CBS Outdoor spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs said her company had operated “all of the signs in question legally and appropriately.”

“We are pleased to put this dispute behind us and continue to serve our clients and the community,” she said in a statement.

The legal settlement was part of a larger effort by Trutanich to target unapproved billboards and supergraphics. For years neighborhood groups have said the multistory signs symbolize the city’s inability to crack down on even the most obvious violators of planning laws.

Ultimately, the agreement reached with CBS Outdoor will keep advertising off of one of the four buildings in question -– an office building at 1025 N. Highland Ave. in Hollywood.

CBS Outdoor can continue to have painted mural advertising on the other three and would be allowed to seek permits to install supergraphics at all of the contested locations. The city, in turn, has reserved the right to oppose such permits.

Advertisers said that at the peak of the real estate boom three years ago they could make as much as $100,000 a month by placing one supergraphic on a high-rise.

CBS Outdoor has long been a player in the city’s billboard policies, supporting candidates and retaining lobbyists at City Hall.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission reported that CBS Outdoor spent $12,000 on billboards in Highland Park and Boyle Heights promoting Councilman Jose Huizar, who is running Tuesday for reelection.

Huizar serves on the council’s powerful Planning and Land Use Management Committee, which reviews billboard issues.

[Updated at 4:13 p.m.: CBS Outdoor has spent $7,500 this week on billboard advertising for Councilman Bernard Parks, who faces a pair of challengers in Tuesday’s election.]



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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall