An illegal supergraphic placed on a building at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue was taken down piecemeal over two days, with the entire sign gone by 6:00am Wednesday, March 3.
The giant sign caused huge buzz since it went up last week in violation of the City of Los Angeles sign ordinance that became official in August. The ordinance disallows new digital and supergraphic billboards.
Businessman Kayvan Seterah erected the sign despite Los Angeles billboard laws and the fact that the city attorney’s office warned him not to, according to Jeffrey Isaacs, chief assistant city attorney.
“It was a willful and calculated move and he did it even after our office sent a cease and desist letter to his council,” Isaacs said.
Seterah was arrested on Friday and bail was set at a whopping $1 million, which was later reduced to $100,000 when he agreed to take the sign down in exchange for release from jail. He was charged with three misdemeanor counts, all having to do with violating local sign laws. The original exorbitant bail amount, Isaacs said, was set via a process called “bail deviation”.
“The city attorney does not set bail, but we did make a motion for bail deviation,” Isaacs said. “The bail schedule will usually allow for something like $500 bail for this kind of offense, but we saw that this was a more serious matter. The judge agreed and approved the bail deviation motion.”
Isaacs said the offense was more serious than the average misdemeanor for several reasons, the most significant of which, he said, is the safety threat posed by the sign.
“It put the public in serious jeopardy,” Isaacs said. “This is an unpermitted, uninspected billboard that weighs several thousand pounds and is bolted to the side of a building in a heavily trafficked area. If it came down it could injure pedestrians, could cause vehicular accidents…we have no data as to what that building could handle. It also covered windows on the second through eighth floors and could pose a fire hazard.”
Isaacs also said the timing of the sign’s appearance showed flagrant disregard for the law. It was erected on the heels of a lawsuit filed by the city attorney against 12 separate owners of illegal supergraphics citywide.
“It’s no coincidence that the first part of this sign went up at two-thirty in the morning, and that the rest of it went up the next morning in the very early hours under the cover of darkness,” Isaacs said. “It was clearly an illegal act and it put the public at risk.”
The deal struck between Seterah and the city attorney, which directed him to take the sign down in exchange for the lowered bail amount, was necessary in getting the takedown expedited, Isaacs said.
“If the sign is not taken down, he can be re-arrested and held on $1 million bail again,” Isaacs said. “It is difficult to get these signs down…it is one thing to get a legal hearing, but it is another thing to get the court to order a mandatory injunction…if we get a preliminary injunction it is appealable, so it sits in litigation and the sign stays up.”
Isaacs said that as the city attorney’s lawsuit unfolds, he expects to see more signs coming down citywide.
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