[Thirsty? Too bad. Some of Metro Lights' (the company is now known as Fuel Outdoors) off-site advertising.]
In what the Los Angeles Times' David Zahniser and Phil Willon are calling a "rare victory" for the city, a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the city didn't violate advertising company Metro Lights LLC sign company's 1st Amendment rights. Metro Lights LLC (which is now known as Fuel Outdoor) had argued that the city could not prohibit new "off-site" signs while also selling other outdoor space. In terms of getting a decent explanation of the city's litigious background with the billboard companies, one needs the entire Harvard Law School faculty and a tanker of Excedrin, but start here, via the LA Times: "At the heart of the Metro Lights case are two votes by the City Council. In 2001, the council awarded a contract to CBS-Decaux LLC for advertising on municipal "street furniture" -- restrooms, magazine stands and bus shelters...
"Months later, the council imposed a citywide off-site sign ban, saying such images have a negative effect on traffic and visual aesthetics. Metro Lights argued that such a move was unconstitutional, with the city favoring one form of advertising over another. That legal argument was also embraced by Michael McNeilly, founder of the Beverly Hills-based company SkyTag, whose website promotes graphics "so LARGE they can be seen from space."
McNeilly, of course, is the guy behind the 1969 images. Meanwhile, here's the statement from City Attorney's office: "The City Attorney's office is pleased the 9th Circuit has agreed with the city's position and overturned the lower court's decision."
So what happens to the signs now? Is Rocky out now, ripping them down those signs with his bare hands? A rep for his office tells us that it'll be up to Building and Safety to ticket the signs. Presumably the company will comply this time and act accordingly (of course, the original ticketing is what helped prompt the 2002 lawsuit).
· U.S. court upholds L.A. ban on billboards [LA Times]