Friday, August 26, 2011
Leftover Trutanich Signs Not Illegal Advertisements, Officials Say
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Signs left over from City Attorney Carmen Trutanich’s 2009 race to become chief prosecutor of Los Angeles which remain alongside his former campaign headquarters in Studio City are not illegal offsite advertisements of the sort Trutanich had vowed to eradicate, city officials said yesterday.
Two double-sided signs at the Allen Realty Plaza flank the building where Trutanich headquartered his campaign, at 12524 Ventura Boulevard. During the campaign, one read “Trutanich ’09,” in larger font, above the words “Carmen Trutanich for City Attorney,”— which since been altered to cover the word “for”—and the other depicted his former campaign website, www.TRU09.com.
Trutanich ran on a platform promising vigorous prosecution of illegal outdoor advertising signage, and his office claims to have collected more than $6.3 million in civil penalties from companies maintaining unpermitted or otherwise unlawful supergraphics and billboards throughout the city during his tenure.
The existence of the campaign headquarters signs was noted on the Los Angeles Dragnet blog on Wednesday in a posting which questioned their legality.
Chief Deputy City Attorney Bill Carter said yesterday that the determination of the signs’ legality is not one that is made by his office, but “we’ll defer to any other department or office to make that decision.”
He added that, “if anyone has a complaint about any particular sign or billboard, they should refer this information to the Los Angeles city Department of Building and Safety” so that agency “can determine whether or not those particular signs are permitted or comply with the city rules and regulations.”
Luke Zamparini, principal inspector for the Department of Building and Safety, yesterday said his agency had received complaints over temporary signs at the Ventura Boulevard location in 2004 and 2007, but “nothing current.”
He viewed pictures of the signs through Google Maps, and said he did not consider them to be illegal offsite advertising.
“I look at that, and to me, its no harm, no foul,” Zamparini said.
A “temporary sign like that doesn’t require a permit,” the inspector explained, saying he thought “it looks like a vinyl sign that’s just stuck up there” like a “Grand Opening or Going Out of Business” sign occasionally used by businesses.
He also posited that the sign qualified as exempt political or ideological speech, since the property owner, Mort Allen, was “a big supporter” of Trutanich’s campaign.
Zamparini said it was the same as if he had put a sign up in his yard that said “Barack Obama,” to show support for the president.
The sign, he said, “can’t stay up forever,” but his agency “doesn’t canvass the street looking for sign violations” since the city has anywhere between 400,000 and 4 million signs at any one time, and only two inspectors to review them for code violations.
Dennis Hathaway, president of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight, yesterday said he thought the signs should be taken down since “the ’09 election was two years ago,” and he is “in favor of enforcing the laws that are out there…across the board.”
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company