Federal Judge to Hear Arguments Sept. 28 on Challenge to L.A.’s Latest Billboard Ban

GavelOn Monday, Sept. 28, a federal court judge will hear arguments that the sign ban adopted by the City Council last month is unconstitutional and should be thrown out.  The permanent ban was passed as an emergency measure Aug. 7, after a sign company filed a challenge to a moratorium banning all new off-site signs.

The latest challenge was filed three days after the council action by the same sign company, Liberty Media Group, in U.S. District Court.  Arguments will be heard by Judge Audrey Collins, who has enjoined the city from enforcing its 2002 off-site sign ban against several companies that have been cited for erecting supergraphic signs without permits.

If the challenge against the permanent sign ban is upheld, the city will ostensibly have no way to prohibit new digital signs and supergraphic signs from going up, since the moratorium is set to expire this week.

Liberty Media Group is represented by Mayer Brown, a large global law firm with offices in downtown L.A.  The motion to throw out the sign ban, signed by attorney Andrew Kugler, says the following, in language a little less prosaic than much found in court documents.

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. The City cannot be allowed to play games with the First Amendment by reenacting the same unconstitutional law under a new ordinance number in order to avoid an adverse court ruling. It is time to hold the City accountable for its repeated First Amendment violations. The Court should take action now and prohibit the City from interfering with Plaintiff’s ability to erect and maintain its signs. Contrary to the City’s assertions, if the Court does so, “life as we know it” will not end, and the sky will not fall.”

Dennis Hathaway

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