Almost a year ago, city building inspectors raised this issue at a meeting of the Board of Building and Safety Commissioners. These huge signs wrapped over the entire sides of buildings and covering windows could impede firefighters in an emergency, they said. And because almost all the signs have been put up without permits or inspections, they added, there isn’t any way to know if the material or manner of installation meets fire safety standards.
Now, City Councilman Jack Weiss wants the fire department to conduct sweeps to identify hazardous supergraphic signs, and get them immediately removed. At a press conference yesterday on Wilshire Blvd. with a huge supergraphic as a backdrop, Weiss also said he would introduce an ordinance to ban unsafe materials and installations.
“Supergraphics are going up all around the City and the advertising they carry has blocked views and architecture, but today we know that some of these supergraphics also are blocking escape routes and posing a safety hazard for people inside,” Weiss said.
A Fire Department official estimated that there are 90-100 such signs now installed on buildings throughout the city. Because these signs fall under the city’s 2002 ban on new off-site advertising signs, a number have been cited by building inspectors, but one sign company, World Wide Rush, sued the city and this past summer obtained a federal court injunction against enforcement of the ban.
The city council just this week received a communication from City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo regarding a closed-door meeting for a “settlement discussion” in that case. By now, everyone knows that the settlement Delgadillo negotiated with Clear Channel and other billboard companies in 2006 has turned out to be disastrous for the city, so stay tuned.