Van Wagner Communications, a national outdoor advertising company headquartered in NYC, is voluntarily removing supergraphics, currently protected by a stay order, in more than 60 locations throughout Los Angeles. Locations include Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles and the mid-Wilshire district.
“We have consistently pushed for tighter regulation, more accountability, and greater enforcement in our engagement with the City of Los Angeles,” said Van Wagner CEO Richard Schaps. “This action demonstrates our commitment to the city and its residents as we work together to seek long-term, equitable solutions to the challenges the city has faced with this issue.”
Although other outdoor-advertising companies remain embroiled in litigation with the city on digital, supergraphic and other issues, Van Wagner continues to push tor a comprehensive legislative solution that addresses all formats of advertising displays.
“Supergraphics, digital billboards, and other forms of outdoor advertising have their place in our modern society,” Schaps said. “We hope that we can show the politicians and the residents of L.A. that there are companies in our industry who support their efforts to protect our neighborhoods.”
Previously, Van Wagner worked with NYC to craft a model sign-regulation program that balances commercial and community interests in terms of visual acuity vs. intrusiveness.
“While this move costs Van Wagner serious revenue dollars in a very tough economy, we think its time for the industry to step up and do our part to be part of the solution,” said Schaps. “We look to others in our industry to step up to the plate and join us as we work with City officials and neighborhood leaders to end these battles once and for all.”
On September 4, 2008, the company filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court s to enjoin the city from enforcing its supergraphic-sign ban against those that were put up without permits or inspections. That was two weeks after District Judge Audrey Collins ruled in the World Wide Rush case that the city’s offsite and supergraphics ban, as applied to that company’s signs, was unconstitutional.
According to www.banbillboardblight.com, Van Wagner’s suit was one of the first of many “copycat” lawsuits that followed the World Wide Rush model in challenging the sign ban on the grounds that exceptions for sign districts, specific plans, and development agreements gave the city too much discretion in allowing some signs, but prohibiting others. (The city appealed Judge Collins’ decision to the 9th Circuit, and a ruling is expected in the next several months.)
Six weeks after filing its lawsuit, Van Wagner and the city agreed on a stay of any enforcement action against the company’s supergraphics, pending the 9th Circuit ruling. Since the city had just filed its appeal, the stay meant that Van Wagner could keep those unpermitted signs up and collect revenue for at least a year, and probably many months longer.
As part of that stay, Van Wagner agreed to provide the city the addresses of the supergraphics, but only if the list remained confidential and the company would be informed of any requests for it. Because the stay order didn’t specify an actual number of signs, the number and location of Van Wagner’s signs haven’t been released publicly.
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