New Legal Twist: Supergraphic Sign Scofflaw Sues Its Attorneys, Claims Bad Advice

Two illegal World Wide Rush supergraphic signs that have since been removed

In a refreshing change from sign companies suing the city, one of L.A.’s most notorious purveyors of illegal sign blight has sued a major L.A. law firm for legal malpractice, claiming that the firm caused the company’s demise by advising it to put up as many unpermitted signs as possible before the city amended its ban on the signs to pass constitutional muster.


Playing With Fire? Raising Revenue By Allowing Billboards On Public Property

Simulation of L.A. Convention Center billboards

On January 6, 2009, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a nationally-watched case that the city of Los Angeles could legally allow commercial advertising signs in bus shelters and other items of “street furniture” while banning the same kind of signs on private property. But does that ruling mean that the city can raise revenue by allowing billboards and other signs anywhere it wants on public property without putting its off-site sign ban in legal jeopardy?

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…)

Ads on Illegal Signs: Who’s the Responsible Party?

Until recently, southbound motorists on the 110 freeway near the L.A. Convention center were greeted with huge fabric Pepsi signs draped over two sides of a seven-level parking garage. On Highland Ave. in Hollywood, an even larger Pepsi sign hung from the side of a historic building housing a film archive, dominating the view from blocks away.  And for several months, the familiar Pepsi logo adorned a building alongside the 405 freeway in West L.A. (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…)

State Lets Supergraphic Sign Scofflaw Off the Hook For Millions in Penalties

One of a series of World Wide Rush supergraphic signs on office building alongside 405 freeway in West L.A.. Photo October, 2008


A Pennsylvania company liable for upwards of $10 million in penalties for putting up illegal supergraphic signs at five different sites alongside L.A. freeways has agreed to pay the state of California $218,000 for the dismissal of all claims against it.  Under state law, the company faced fines of $10,000 a day and could have been required to disgorge revenue earned while the signs were up between 2007 and 2010.  (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:


Wilshire Grand Sign District: Or, How to Diss the City Attorney (and Game the System)

Some of the signage proposed for Wilshire Grand project. (Photoshop approximation by Curbed LA)

Was the City Attorney’s office deliberately excluded from discussions between L.A. city planners and the developer of the new Wilshire Grand project downtown regarding the establishment of a sign district that would legally allow sign types prohibited by ordinance citywide?  At last week’s City Planning Commission meeting where the sign district was approved, a project lobbyist said that developers had been discussing the signage with planners for more than a year, while a representative of the City Attorney’s office said the signage details had been provided to his office less than a week before the meeting. (more…)

L.A. Sign Districts: Report Says Strict Criteria Needed To Avoid Legal Problems

Would this billboard in proposed sign district pass legal muster? (architect's rendering)

The elimination of visual blight and the enhancement of traffic safety are the only legally defensible criteria for establishing sign districts that allow new off-site, supergraphic, and other prohibited sign types in L.A., according to a new report issued by the Department of City Planning.  Should the city adopt new regulations strictly reflecting these criteria, sign districts proposed for downtown, the Universal City area, and elsewhere could prove much more difficult to establish.


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