Ban on New Supergraphic Signs in Hollywood Contains Huge Exemption, Includes Signs That Would Cover Apartment Windows

View of supergraphic sign on Metropolitan Hotel apartment project above Hollywood freeway. Sign simulation by Skytag, Inc.

L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti’s proposal to ban new supergraphic signs in the Hollywood sign district would exempt a total of 31,000 sq. ft. of the signage that has won some form of city approval, but hasn’t been issued permits by the city building department.  Included is a 5,700 sq. ft. sign that would cover many of the windows on a 12-story apartment building clearly visible from the nearby Hollywood freeway.

The city council voted 15-0 this past Tuesday to add the ban to revisions to the Hollywood sign district regulations approved last year but never put into effect.  Those revisions, which include a prohibition of supergraphic signs covering windows, are expected to go before the City Planning Commission on July 22, and if approved, to the City Council’s PLUM committee and full council.

The five projects with supergraphic signage not yet put up include the aforementioned building known as the Metropolitan Hotel at 5825 Sunset Blvd., Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum at 6933 Hollywood Blvd., and the massive Clarett Hollywood mixed-use project that has yet to break ground at Hollywood Blvd. and Argyle Ave.  Other projects are at 1724 and 1800 N. Highland Ave., but the only one where supergraphic signs would cover residential windows is the Metropolitan Hotel.

View through window of Melrose Ave. office building covered with supergraphic last year

During the past several years, as unpermitted supergraphic signs were hung or wrapped over buildings from downtown to Venice to the San Fernando Valley, city officials, including fire department personnel, repeatedly raised alarms about the fact that these signs could pose a potential hazard by making it harder for firefighters to get into a building, or even see where the covered windows were located.   Tenants of office buildings with the semi-opaque signs also complained about the affect on light and views.

A large number of those supergraphics have recently come down, in the wake of energetic action by City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, and a major appeals court decision upholding the constitutionality of the city ordinance prohibiting those signs outside sign districts and specific plan areas, such as Hollywood and downtown’s Sports and Entertainment district encompassing L.A. Live and Staples Center.

Speaking in support of the exemptions for the five projects, Garcetti said that the developers of those projects had included the income from the advertising signage as part of their calculations, and that it would be unfair for the city to “change rules midstream.”  He added that the City Attorney didn’t have objections to grandfathering these projects, although nobody from that office spoke  at the meeting.

The only person speaking in public comment against the supergraphic ban in Hollywood was Maya Zutler, director of legislative affairs for the Valley Industry and Commerce Association.  Zutler said the organization opposed the measure because it could hurt future development.

For more, see:  Developer Claims “Vested Right” to Supergraphic Signs Even Though Public Hearing On Project Never Included Them

Dennis Hathaway

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