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.


Death Knell? 9th Circuit Rejects Last Active Supergraphic Sign Ban Challenge


One of a series of supergraphic signs put up by Vanguard Outdoor on Robertson Blvd. office building. Fire officials have testified in a criminal proceeding that the sign could impede firefighters trying to reach persons inside. (Photo from 2009)

The mother lode imagined by sign companies and property owners who sought to turn hundreds of Los Angeles buildings into giant advertisements for movies, TV shows, cars, fast food and other products and services has proven to consist almost entirely of fool’s gold. (more…)

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…)

Some Highlights (and Lowlights) of 2010 in the Local World of Outdoor Advertising

The past year proved to be an eventful one in the ongoing battle against an outdoor advertising industry that would like to turn the city’s public spaces into a brighter, denser, more inescapable gallery of sales pitches for movies, tv shows, fast food, cars, and other products and services.  Here are a few of the more notable events, presented in no particular order:


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.


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.


Appeals Court Won’t Reconsider Ruling Upholding L.A. Supergraphic Sign Ban

Site of supergraphic sign on building overlooking Hollywood freeway

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has decided against granting World Wide Rush and Skytag, Inc. an “En Banc” rehearing of last May’s ruling upholding the constitutionality of L.A.’s ban on off-site and supergraphic advertising signs.   The companies’ only recourse now in their three-year old attack on the city’s sign ordinance is to file a writ of certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the appeals court ruling.


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