The Naked City: More Supergraphic Signs Disappear

Supergraphic "Sex and the City 2" ad put up by Skytag, Inc. being removed from Santa Monica Blvd. office building

Northbound travelers on the 405 freeway in West L.A. might be asking what happened to the supergraphic signs that used to be stretched across the face of a 12-story office building on adjacent Sepulveda Blvd., advertising such products as movies, cellphones, fast food, soft drinks, and trips to Hawaii.

Those ads that have appeared continuously for almost four years were put up by World Wide Rush, the Pennsylvania company that recently lost a major appellate court challenge to the city’s ordinance prohibiting supergraphic signs, but the building has now been ad-free for nearly a month.

Right, building overlooking 405 freeway earlier this year; inset, today

Several miles east, the six-story façade of a Citibank building recently emerged from beneath a succession of World Wide Rush ads that provoked neighborhood complaints and was the scene of a news conference by former City Councilman Jack Weiss in which he called for tougher penalties on companies putting up such signs without any permits.

Skytag, another company that was party to the appellate court ruling that the city had a constitutional right to ban the supergraphic signs, has also taken down signs that had become a familiar sight along such busy streets as Santa Monica and Wilshire Blvds., including at least one of the giant statue of liberty images created by company owner, Michael McNeilly.

Left, Santa Monica Blvd. building last year; right, today.

CBS Outdoor has removed unpermitted supergraphic signs from buildings in Hollywood and downtown, apparently in response to threats of prosecution from the City Attorney’s Office.  And Van Wagner Communications, which also sued the city in 2008 to block enforcement of the supergraphic sign ban, announced last month that it would voluntarily remove all of its supergraphic signs.  Last week, the company provided a list of 67 locations from which it says the signs have been removed.

The ruling against World Wide Rush and Skytag by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has not been officially recorded because the companies have petitioned for an “En Banc” rehearing before an 11-judge panel of the circuit.  A decision on that petition is expected sometime within the next several months.  If denied, the companies’ only recourse is to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the ruling.

Dennis Hathaway

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