U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins threw a large bucket of cold water today on claims that the city’s ban on off-site and supergraphic signs violates the free speech clause of the California Constitution and takes property without compensation in violation of the U.S. Constitution, among other legal theories she characterized as an attempt at “breathing life” into a case left on life support by this past summer’s appellate court ruling in the World Wide Rush case.
Judge Collins’s ruling came in a motion by Vanguard Outdoor to extend temporary injunctions the judge issued a year ago, barring the city from enforcing its sign ban at three locations. Those injunctions were among some 50 issued by the judge after she ruled in the World Wide Rush case that the city could not legally ban the company’s supergraphic signs. After the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned her ruling three months ago, the city filed motions asking that all the World Wide Rush injunctions and those issued in “copycat” lawsuits that followed be lifted. A total of almost 50 sites were involved.
Last Friday, Judge Collins lifted the Vanguard injunctions, including one at a high profile site next to the 10 freeway, but rescinded that order today pending arguments on whether action in the case should be stayed while Vanguard appeals her denial of further injunctions. If the temporary injunctions are allowed to remain in force, the city’s hands could be indefinitely tied while an appeal works its way through the appellate court system.
This is no small matter, because supergraphic signs like the one on the 10 freeway currently advertising Cadillac cars can bring upwards of $80,000 in monthly revenue to the sign company.