Last week, news broke that the city's Building & Safety Department had asked that the advertisements on the sides of the Eastern Columbia building be removed, a request that upset homeowners who said that the signs were decorative and covering up the empty retail space on the ground floor. Even as the city puts together its final sign ordinance, it wasn't clear why these signs were illegal, so some more information: First, developer KOR didn't have permits for the signs, writes Bob Steinbach, Assistant Bureau Chief, Inspection Bureau at the Building & Safety Dept, in an email. And even if they did have a permit, the Eastern Columbia is breaking the so-called "excessive signage" rule, which states that signs in a window can not exceed 10% of the window area. And he outlines the whole case in his email: "In Late July 2008 an "Order to Comply" was issued for the excessive window signage at 849 S Broadway. 30 days later the signs remained and the owner had made no attempt to comply with the Order to Comply."
More from Steinbach's email: "The owner attended a City Attorney Hearing where he said he would file for an extension of time to comply, which he did on 10/10/08. On 12/16/08 the Board of Building and Safety Commission granted an extension of time until 1/30/09. As of this date and time the owner has not complied with the Department Order to Comply or the Board of Building and Safety extension of time." We pointed out that many downtown buildings including The Union Lofts, the Title Guarantee Building, and Pagasus, have retail "placeholders" similar to what's currently up at Eastern Columbia. Asked if those buildings had been cited, Steinbach wrote: "We do not have orders on those properties. That doesn't mean that they are in compliance, it means we have not had any complaints." KOR's general counsel, Jason Morgan, didn't immediately return calls about the permit. Meanwhile, as a reader pointed out, how long till that three-year old "Ashes & Snow" billboard comes down?
Union Lofts at 325 W. 8th St:
Title Guarantee at 411 W 5th St:
· SignGate: Eastern Columbia Fears the Ugliness Beneath [Curbed LA]