Everyone knows that Angelenos love ads, so what the heck is the no-fun City Attorney Mike Feuer doing trying to charge illegal signs out of existence?? Feuer wants to change the city's sign ordinance to, among other things, raise fines by a factor of about 20--from $2,500 a day to up to $48,000 a day for the biggest signs. But billboard companies only make about $100,000 a month from big billboards, and they only net a tiny profit--maybe $25,000 a month--with the current fines (assuming they don't "get the penalties reduced on appeal.") Feuer himself acknowledges that, as they stand, the fines are "[something something] a necessary and affordable cost of doing business." Under his proposal, the city would send a notice of violation with a takedown deadline to the offending company, and fines would kick in a lightning-fast two weeks after the deadline. After that, fines for illegal billboards larger than 750 square feet (the best kind) would start at $12,000 and go up to $48k after three days. The city estimates "that between 1,000 and 4,000 signs either lack permits or have other code violations," so we're potentially talking about a tragically massive sign die-off if this thing goes through. Luckily, the general manager for one outdoor advertising firm thinks outrageous, effective fines like these "may have constitutional restraints." The rules will head to the City Council next month.
· Los Angeles May Sign Off on Hefty Billboard Fines [LABJ, sub. req.]