The Pennsylvania company charged with criminal violations of building and fire codes for covering windows of a West L.A. office building with a huge supergraphic advertising sign has asked a federal judge to hold the city in contempt of court. The company, World Wide Rush, claims that a 2008 injunction barring the city from forcing the removal of a supergraphic from a blank wall of the same building precludes any action against the second, much larger supergraphic sign that city officials say presents a hazard to the tenants in the event of a fire.
The company claims that its “business and its business relationship will be irreparably damaged” if the city proceeds with prosecution. The injunction granted last summer barred the city from forcing World Wide Rush to remove a multi-story supergraphic ad for a Fox TV program affixed to one end of the 5-story office building at 10801 National Blvd. The judge in the case ruled that the city couldn’t ban the ad because it had allowed legal exceptions for similar supergraphics in special sign districts and specific plan areas in Hollywood and downtown.
In January of this year, a second supergraphic went up, this one stretching across all the windows on the longer wall of the building. When an order to take it down was ignored, the city attorney filed multiple criminal charges against World Wide Rush and the building owner.
The company is seeking the contempt of court order on the grounds that the injunction applied to the original supergraphic on the blank wall also precludes the city from taking any action to force removal of the supergraphic signs covering the building’s windows. The injunction states that the city cannot enforce its ban on “off-site” advertising signs at the address, but adds that “The City may inspect and verify Plaintiffs’ signs to ensure that they have been constructed according to applicable code provisions to ensure the safe construction of signs.”
In affadavits filed with the court, the company claims that the supergraphic sign meets the city’s standards for fireproof materials. The company also claims that no office tenants are put at risk by the material covering windows because the windows do not open. However, fire officials have said that firefighters might need to break through fixed windows to rescue people, or allow smoke to escape, and that the sign material could pose a hazard by impeding them.
The criminal complaints against World Wide Rush and the building owners are scheduled for hearing in L.A. County Superior Court
on Feb. 26.