A federal judge has issued a temporary injunction barring the city of Los Angeles from taking action against unpermitted supergraphics on at least 18 buildings while the case moves ahead in court.
U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins said the SkyTag advertising company submitted evidence stating that its supergraphics, or multistory images, had been erected at each location before Dec. 26, the day a temporary sign ban went into effect.
Five of the buildings are on the Westside and six are in Hollywood. At least five are owned by Jamison Properties, a plaintiff in the lawsuit with SkyTag, and at least four are owned by CIM Group, including one at 1800 N. Highland Ave. that has been a subject of heated debate.
CIM received approval from the City Council in November to place three supergraphics on the building but erected six instead.
"It does seem like local government is powerless" against outdoor advertising companies, said Madeline Janis, a member of the Community Redevelopment Agency's board.
CIM Group took down the three unpermitted supergraphics following an outcry from Janis and others earlier this year. Spokeswoman Karen Diehl said in a statement that the company has no plan to restore them.
SkyTag attorney Gary Mobley said Collins made "the right decision" and pointed out that the judge also ordered the city to drop citations issued for at least four additional locations. Collins also ordered the city to give owners of the 18 properties the opportunity to appeal any citation that found that a supergraphic violated fire safety laws.
SkyTag is best known for the Statue of Liberty supergraphics that bear the name of the company's president, Michael McNeilly.
SkyTag had argued earlier this year that the court should shield 118 locations from enforcement by the city. While that matter was being reviewed by Collins, The Times visited each location and found that fewer than a third had images on them.
Chief Assistant City Atty. David Michaelson said he hoped to hear from residents who have complained that SkyTag's images went up after the sign moratorium.
"She still only gave Mr. McNeilly relief for 18 out of 118 sites, so he clearly came up with the shorter end of the stick," Michaelson said. "But we didn't want him to get any part of the stick."