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Trutanich criticizes city planners for approving billboard plan

The agency ignored his request to hold off approving new signs at the Convention Center.

July 14, 2009|Maeve Reston

Newly elected Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich has sent a blistering letter to city planners who approved a billboard plan over his objections last week, stating that by "acting in haste, for no apparent reason," they "undermined and jeopardized" the work of his office.

Trutanich sent the letter to members of the City Planning Commission on Friday, the day after they approved a plan for placing 40,000 square feet of billboards and other outdoor signs on the Los Angeles Convention Center, near the congested interchange of the 10 and 110 freeways downtown.

Trutanich, who took office July 1, promised during the campaign that he would immediately crack down on illegal billboards and revamp the city's sign regulations. The day before the Planning Commission meeting, he sent a letter to members asking for a two-week delay on decisions about the Convention Center billboards so he could would have time to review the policy.

Their decision to flout his request, Trutanich wrote Friday, amounted to "an unfathomable lack of courtesy" for his administration and granted new billboard rights at a time when the city is trying to reduce them.

The City Council passed a ban on billboards in 2002; it has been the focus of a number of successful legal challenges by advertising companies.

In his letter, Trutanich said the city had not been able to enforce its billboard ban because of its practice of authorizing exceptions.

"Please be advised that there are limits to the discretion and governmental immunities that you enjoy as public officials," he wrote. "I will not hesitate to act in the future if it appears that you are aiding and abetting unlawful conduct despite my contrary advice."

Commissioners could not be reached for comment.

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maeve.reston@latimes.com

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