A corporation that owns a building blocks from Los Angeles International Airport has been ordered by City Attorney Carmen Trutanich to take down an illegal supergraphic that was installed last year.
The building, at 9800 Sepulveda Blvd., is owned by LAX Enterprises Inc. The owners entered a plea of no contest Nov. 21 to eight counts of maintaining a prohibited outdoor advertising sign or supergraphic.
LAX Enterprise will also pay nearly $15,000 in fines and an additional $44,111 in investigative costs to city agencies including the Los Angeles Fire Department, the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety as well Trutanich’s office.
“We think this is an excellent result,” Deputy City Attorney Mark Lambert told The Argonaut. “It’s a significant fine and we hope that this deters others from installing supergraphics without a permit.”
In 2009, the City Council passed a moratorium on new billboards as part of a new sign ordinance, which a number of sign companies subsequently challenged in court. U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins upheld the prohibition outlined in the sign ordinance on Sept. 28 last year.
Trutanich has made enforcing the new billboard laws a priority since he took office over two years ago. He has filed charges and levied fines against a number of billboard and supergraphics companies, and has arrested some property owners who display the signs.
Trutanich promised that he would be much more aggressive against illegal supergraphics and outdoor signs than his predecessor, Rocky Delgadillo, whom many anti-blight activists believe was too lenient on sign companies.
“I’m going to do the right thing by the people of Los Angeles,” the city attorney told The Argonaut the day before he took office July 1, 2009. “We’re going to stop the proliferation of billboards, and the owners of these outdoor signs will have to follow strict guidelines from now on.”
Last February, Trutanich filed a civil law enforcement action against 27 defendants for reportedly erecting illegal billboards and supergraphics.
Santa Monica resident Siamak Michael Rahimi, the owner of LAX Enterprises, Inc., was placed on informal diversion for one-year probation pending compliance with probation conditions placed on the corporation and payments of all fines and investigative costs, according to the city attorney’s office.
Rahimi originally faced four additional counts of illegally installing a supergraphic, illegally maintaining an offsite sign, obstructing fire department ingress and egress from the building and failing to identify the person or entity responsible for maintaining the supergraphic.
Superior Court Judge Yolanda Orozco placed the corporation on probation for three years.
City officials will be considering adopting a new sign ordinance next year that will include several billboard districts, including one along the LAX Corridor in Westchester. According to city planning officials, sign districts are a tool in which the City Council can review requests for special signage allowances above and beyond what is allowed by the sign ordinance.
Under the proposed ordinance, sign districts can only be requested for properties planned for the most intense level of commercial use.
City planners at one time also included the Howard Hughes Center in Westchester as a possible location for a sign district, but that proposal was tabled two years ago.
Many Westside residents in Mar Vista and Venice argue that the billboards are the equivalent to allowing their city leaders to auction off the public air space to the highest bidder. Some have attended planning meetings to lobby the City Council not to consider any additional signs or sign districts.
Lambert said Rahimi has been cooperative with his office.
“I’m confident that he will comply with the conditions of his probation,” he said.