Multi-story supergraphic signs advertising everything from movies to liquor to women’s clothing have proliferated throughout Hollywood in the past half dozen years, but L.A. City Council president Eric Garcetti is now calling for a ban on the approval of any more of the signs in the Hollywood Sign district. In a motion to be voted on by the City Council this coming Tuesday, Garcetti cited “community concern” and “ongoing legal questions about the appropriateness of supergraphic signs…”
In 2002, the City Council banned supergraphic signs city-wide, but created exceptions for sign districts, specific plan areas, and approved development agreements. In 2004, the Hollywood sign district was created, with a provision allowing new supergraphic signage in exchange for the removal of conventional billboards, at a square footage ratio of two to one in favor of supergraphic signs.
However, almost all the Hollywood sign district fell into the Hollywood Redevelopment Area, and the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) allowed developers to put up new supergraphic signs by paying a fee in lieu of removing billboards. In a hearing last year before the City Planning Commission, a city official said that only a half dozen billboards had actually been removed in Hollywood in the five year existence of the sign district, a period in which more than 50,000 square feet of supergraphic signage, or the equivalent of 75 full-sized billboards, was erected.
In addition, Hollywood became fertile ground for companies putting up illegal supergraphic signs, although a crackdown by City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, which included the weekend jailing of a property owner, has prompted the removal of a number of the signs from such high-profile locations as the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and the intersection of Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave.
While many new signs erected as part of such developments as the Sunset & Vine tower and the Hollywood & Vine project bear a much closer resemblance to billboards than the commonly-seen vinyl and fabric signs draped or adhered to the walls of buildings, the Hollywood sign district provisions define them as supergraphic signs.
Some developments, most notably the massive Clarett Hollywood mixed-use project on Hollywood Blvd., have received approvals for supergraphic signage although construction has not yet begun. Whether or not that project would have vested rights to put up the seven supergraphic signs totaling almost 11,000 sq. ft. if Garcetti’s proposed ban is approved remains to be seen.
A number of revisions to the Hollywood Sign District regulations were approved in January of last year by the City Planning Commission, and the City Council directed the City Attorney to draw up an ordinance incorporating them. Garcetti’s motion, if adopted by the full council, would direct the planning department and City Attorney to include the supergraphic sign prohibition in the ordinance.