Trojan Horse? Skytag’s Michael McNeilly Promotes Billboard Tax in West Hollywood

Michael McNeilly, whose company just lost a major court battle with L.A. over illegal supergraphic signs, is promoting a ballot initiative that would impose a tax on billboards and supergraphic signs in West Hollywood.  The initiative would also greatly expand the areas where those supergraphic or “tall wall” signs are allowed, a fact that has prompted one City Councilperson to call it a “Trojan horse.”

In a posting last week, Curbed L.A. called attention to the curious fact that neither a press release nor the website promoting the initiative includes any contact information.  However, a copy of the press release sent to the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight came from an e-mail address listed in several web documents as the contact for Michael McNeilly, head of Beverly Hills-based Skytag, Inc., a company that has put up legal supergraphic signs in West Hollywood in addition to ones cited as illegal in L.A.

Several questions about the initiative were sent to the e-mail address, including an inquiry regarding the organizations and/or persons sponsoring the initiative.  A response was received to all of the questions except the one about the names of sponsors, and the name of the sender was never identified.

The initiative, called the “Tax Billboard Act” would impose a seven per cent tax on gross revenues from billboards and other forms of off-site advertising signs.  According to the aforementioned e-mail response, sign owners get at least $60 million a year in revenue, which would mean more than $4 million for West Hollywood’s city coffers.

But a second section of the initiative would lift a general prohibition on off-site advertising signs outside the Sunset Strip area, allowing “tall wall” signs on Santa Monica and Beverly Boulevards.  Such signs would have to be at least 5,000 sq. ft. in size, and could not face directly on the two streets or be installed on historic buildings, according to the proposed act.

For more about McNeilly and Skytag, click here.

Dennis Hathaway

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.