Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo has brought criminal charges against three property owners and a billboard company for violating a municipal law regarding the construction of outdoor signs that was implemented in December.

The City Council passed an ordinance on December 17th that places a moratorium on billboards and other forms of outdoor commercial advertising for a period of three months.

A week after the moratorium was approved by the council, Delgadillo’s office filed charges against Timothy McDaniel, who owns McDaniel Inc., a construction firm. McDaniel was charged with one count each of construction without permits, placing or altering a sign without a permit and erecting a sign without securing all required permits and licenses.

The property owners, Austin Family Associates, LLC; Plumbers Union Local No. 78 and West Hollywood Properties LLC were charged with the same violations, which were announced on December 26th. In addition, McDaniel was also charged with failing to obey an order of the Department of Building and Safety to discontinue construction.

Acting on a series of complaints, the Department of Building and Safety’s Code Enforcement Bureau initiated an inspection of signs being installed without permits in three locations in Los Angeles on December 20th.

“Building and Safety has referred three cases to our office, and we have filed criminal actions stemming from all three referrals,” Max Follmer, press deputy for Delgadillo told The Argonaut.

Dennis Hathaway, president of Venice-based Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight, was appalled to learn that the moratorium had been violated so quickly — less than a month after its passage.

“I think that this illustrates the kind of industry that we’re dealing with,” said Hathaway, who led a volunteer effort with his Venice and Mar Vista neighbors in October to catalog billboards in the 11th District. “This is blatant disregard for the law. It’s good that our city officials are taking this seriously, and I think that this shows that these companies have no respect for public process.”

The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned in Department 82 of the Central Arraignment Court in downtown Los Angeles on January 21st. Each count carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.