Latest Court Ruling: Is L.A. Facing a Deluge of New Digital Billboards?

Lamar Advertising billboard on Olympic Blvd.  This billboard isn't digital, but the company is suing to put up 45 new digital ones like this one.  The billboard pictured has no permit on file with the city of L.A.

Lamar Advertising billboard on Olympic Blvd. This billboard isn’t digital, but the company is suing to put up 45 new digital ones like it. The double-sided billboard  also has no permit on file with the city of L.A.

Now that Superior Court judge Luis Lavin has ruled that L.A.’s 2002 ban on new billboards violates the California Constitution, what’s next? Are new billboards going to be sprouting like hothouse mushrooms along the city’s major thoroughfares? Especially digital billboards, with their ability to attract the attention of drivers with their Jumbotron-like graphics and rapidly changing ads for cars, fast food, booze, electronic gadgets, and what seems like every movie and TV show about to hit theaters and home entertainment centers?


More Billboards Coming To Los Angeles? Judge Rules City’s Off-Site Sign Ban Unconstitutional

Lamar Advertising has won a major court battle in its fight to put up new digital billboards like this one in Los Angeles

Lamar Advertising has won a major court battle in its fight to put up new digital billboards like this one in Los Angeles

Los Angeles has been trying to shed its label as the country’s billboard capital, but Clear Channel and other companies pushing to put up new digital billboards got a major boost this week when a Superior Court judge ruled that the city’s ban on new off-site signs violates the free speech guarantee of the California state constitution.


Hope Springs Eternal: Hollywood Property Owner Seeks U.S. Supreme Court Review of Supergraphic Sign Ban

Illegal 8-story supergraphic sign displayed on Sunset Blvd. office building in 2009 for a Travel Channel cable TV show

The owner of two Sunset Blvd. office buildings is asking the high court to review an appeals court opinion rejecting a claim that the city violated the owner’s constitutional rights by refusing to issue permits for 8-story high supergraphic signs on the faces of the buildings.


Fuel Outdoor: In With a Bang, Out With a Whimper…and a $1.8 Million Fine

Array of Fuel Outdoor signs put up without permits (Photo from January, 2009)

New York-based Fuel Outdoor was one of the first rogue companies that rode into L.A. with the following strategy: Put up billboards and supergraphic signs all over the city without regard for ordinances and requirements for permits, then sue the city when the citations start coming and get the courts to declare those ordinances–most importantly, the 2002 ban on new off-site signs–an unconstitutional infringement of free speech.


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…)

Another Notch For the City: Sunset Blvd. Property Owner Loses Supergraphic Signs Appeal in Federal Court

Illegal Supergraphic sign at 6464 Sunset Blvd. (Photo from Sept., 2009)

A once-swollen stream of sign company lawsuits approached a trickle this week as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals shut the door on an effort to legalize multi-story supergraphic signs that once adorned the sides of two Sunset Blvd. office buildings.


Is the Ink Dry? Last Month’s Approval of Wilshire Grand Signage Cited in Federal Court Challenge to L.A. Code

Left, electronic signage of the type approved for Wilshire Grand; right, billboards in South L.A. For each square foot of billboard display removed, developer gets credit for 3 sq. ft. of the electronic signage

From the moment developers of the Wilshire Grand project downtown publicly disclosed their intention to wrap the buildings in a 300,000 sq. ft. electronic skin that would display colored, changing images, including commercial ads, some people have raised alarms about the possibility that approval would undermine enforcement of the city’s general ban on new off-site advertising. While that possibility scarcely registered in City Council meetings on the project that more closely resembled pep rallies than debates, it came through clearly last week in a filing in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals alleging that approval of the signage is an unconstitutional exception to the ban. (more…)

Throwing in the Towel: Rogue Sign Company Abandons L.A. Legal Challenges

World Wide Rush supergraphic sign on West L.A. office building. Photo from November, 2008

On August 19, 2008, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that Los Angeles’s ban on new off-site and supergraphic signs was unconstitutional, and barred the city from taking action against multi-story mesh and vinyl advertising signs wrapped over buildings by an obscure Pennsylvania company called World Wide Rush. (more…)

Film Industry Advocates Join Latest Legal Assault On L.A.’s Supergraphic Sign Ban

Vanguard Outdoor faces criminal charges for this illegal supergraphic sign advertising the Warner Bros. movie, "Watchmen" (Photo from 2009)

The Bring Hollywood Home Foundation, a non-profit group advocating for incentives to keep film production in L.A.., has filed a motion in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals supporting a lawsuit seeking to overturn L.A.’s ban on off-site and supergraphic signs.  According to news articles about the foundation’s establishment, members of its advisory board include several city officials, among them City Council president Eric Garcetti, who last year successfully pushed for a ban on new supergraphic signs in Hollywood’s major commercial areas.  Update:  A spokesperson for Garcetti said he is not a member of the advisory board, and does not support the group’s legal action. (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:


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