Legal Wars: City Seeks Millions in Lawsuit Against McNeilly Over Illegal Supergraphic Signs


Two of the dozens of Skytag supergraphic signs cited in city lawsuit (Photos from March, 2010)

Michael McNeilly, the self-proclaimed Beverly Hills artist who first gained noteriety by painting a large patriotic mural on the side of a Westwood office building and then converting it to a commercial advertisement was hit yesterday with a lawsuit seeking millions in damages for that sign and other supergraphic signs put up without permits on buildings in a wide area of Los Angeles. The lawsuit filed by City Attorney Carmen Trutanich also names 21 property owners who allegedly allowed McNeilly to put up illegal signs, including a prominent developer who has received city loans and subsidies.


Strange Bedfellows: Billboard Companies Join Anti-Blight Activists Fighting “Trojan Horse” Billboard Tax

One might be excused for thinking that a group called “Concerned Neighbors Against Illegal Billboards” is a grass-roots organization of people who don’t like billboards, but in fact it was formed and funded by Clear Channel and other major L.A. billboard companies.  The reason?  To fight a West Hollywood billboard tax initiative pushed by Michael McNeilly, owner of a company that has placed both legal and illegal “tall wall” supergraphic signs on multi-story buildings at various sites in L.A. (more…)

Dangerous Advertising? Supergraphic Sign Overlooking Freeway Rips Loose in Wind Storm

Nine-story supergraphic sign alongside 405 freeway after last week's windstorm

When City Attorney Carmen Trutanich began cracking down on illegal supergraphic signs in L.A., his office cited public safety concerns that the huge vinyl and fabric signs wrapped around buildings could endanger motorists and pedestrians if their attachments failed due to high winds or some other cause.  But others, including attorneys for property owners charged with allowing those illegal signs, argued that those concerns were highly exaggerated and that high bail amounts set in several cases were unwarranted.


Selling the Public Viewscape: Freeway Supergraphic Signs

View of supergraphic signs from 405 freeway. Building is just outside L.A. border, where such signs are banned.

After a long, costly legal battle, the city of Los Angeles recently prevailed in its fight against companies putting up illegal supergraphic signs, and over the past few months most—although not all—of those multistory ads draped over the sides of buildings have disappeared.  But now those rogue sign companies have shifted their focus to surrounding communities, and are buying the right to erect the signs in exchange for promises to share some of their revenue with cash-strapped local governments.


Trojan Horse? Skytag’s Michael McNeilly Promotes Billboard Tax in West Hollywood

Michael McNeilly, whose company just lost a major court battle with L.A. over illegal supergraphic signs, is promoting a ballot initiative that would impose a tax on billboards and supergraphic signs in West Hollywood.  The initiative would also greatly expand the areas where those supergraphic or “tall wall” signs are allowed, a fact that has prompted one City Councilperson to call it a “Trojan horse.”


Legal Wars: Sign Company Attorneys Plot New Attacks On L.A. Regulations

World Wide Rush supergraphic on Wilshire Blvd. ( Photo from June 23, 2010)

Apparently undaunted by a federal appellate court decision upholding the city’s right to ban new off-site and supergraphic signs, attorneys for sign companies have signaled their intention to mount fresh challenges to the ban that has been the subject of almost constant litigation since its original passage eight years ago.


The Naked City: More Supergraphic Signs Disappear

Supergraphic "Sex and the City 2" ad put up by Skytag, Inc. being removed from Santa Monica Blvd. office building

Northbound travelers on the 405 freeway in West L.A. might be asking what happened to the supergraphic signs that used to be stretched across the face of a 12-story office building on adjacent Sepulveda Blvd., advertising such products as movies, cellphones, fast food, soft drinks, and trips to Hawaii.


World Wide Rush Ruling: Game Over For Rogue Sign Companies?

Two supergraphics protected by federal court injunctions issued in 2008, but lifted by the appeals court ruling. Left, sign by Skytag, Inc.; right, by World Wide Rush

Does yesterday’s decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the city’s right to ban off-site, supergraphic, and freeway-facing advertising signs mean that impresarios of blight like Barry Rush of World Wide Rush and Michael McNeilly of Skytag, Inc. will be packing up their multi-story building wraps and heading out of town?  To shed some light on that question, and other issues relevant to yesterday’s eagerly-awaited court ruling, we conducted the following Q&A with ourselves.


How Was This Eight-Story Supergraphic Ad For a Movie Permitted as an “On-Site” Sign?

"On-Site" supergraphic sign, left, locked office door, right

The supergraphic sign above for the movie “Prince of Persia” on a Westwood office building is legally permitted as an on-site sign, which the L.A. sign code defines as a sign directing attention to a product or service generally sold or offered on the premises where the sign is located.   There is no movie theater in the Wilshire Blvd. building, or the offices of the movie production company, so how can the sign be considered legally equivalent to the sign on the local hardware store or dry cleaners?


FRAUD: Another Site by “Defender of Artistic Freedom” Goes Commercial

Supergraphics on building at 4929 Wilshire Blvd. A third face is covered with a statue of liberty image.

Back in October, we asked the question–What will be next?– for a Wilshire Blvd. office building displaying a multi-story supergraphic image of the Statue of Liberty, the calling card of Michael McNeilly, self-proclaimed artist and owner of Skytag, Inc.  That question was answered last week by the appearance of supergraphic commercial ads for a Style Channel TV program on two faces of the building.

See related article here and here.

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