City Attorney Carmen Trutanich spoke at a meeting of the Melrose Action Neighborhood Watch on April 7, and vowed to continue cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries and illegal billboards.
Trutanich defended his recent decision to request a $1 million bail for a Hollywood building owner who placed an illegal supergraphic at the intersection of Hollywood and Highland Avenue during the week prior to the Academy Awards. Trutanich said the building owner, Kayvan Seterah, had put the public’s safety at risk by placing the billboard on the building, which is why he requested an unusually high bail. Once Seterah agreed to take down the supergraphic, the bail was reduced to $100,000. Seterah now faces a misdemeanor charge for allowing the sign to go up. Trutanich said he plans to continue to go after building owners who illegally put up the large signs, and would request high bail amounts in instances where the public safety may be at risk.
“That supergraphic weighed more than eight thousand pounds, probably closer to ten,” Trutanich said. “If that were to break loose and swing and hit somebody walking down the street, it would kill them. In order to protect the public, during a weekend where we knew there was going to be a storm, we had to do something quickly. The public safety aspect of this was extreme.”
Trutanich said he plans to create a “supergraphic rap sheet”, which will track building owners who continuously violate the law, and will charge them criminally, instead of simply issuing fines.
“We need to get control of this issue and slowly and methodically, we are,” Trutanich said. “We’ve been fighting them in the wrong arena, the civic arena, and now we are going to start going after these guys.”
Trutanich also vowed to go after the many medical marijuana dispensaries that are operating illegally throughout the city, but added that until the city’s permanent medical marijuana ordinance goes into effect, there is little he can do.
The ordinance will likely go into effect in May, and Trutanich said he will quickly begin nuisance abatement proceedings against dispensaries that do not close. Trutanich said while he does believe there needs to be access to medical marijuana for patients who need it, a majority of the dispensaries will have to close because the city has capped the number at 70. Approximately 158 dispensaries may eventually be allowed to stay open because the city agreed to allow those operating before a moratorium took effect in 2007 to reapply for a permit to remain in business.
“If you have a marijuana shop and you are selling marijuana, it’s illegal. That’s the message, and I plan to go after these shop owners who do not comply with the law,” Trutanich said. “We are no longer going to roll over. We are going to enforce the law, and we are going to go after them.”
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