Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich called on billboard companies CBS and Clear Channel Outdoor today to shut off more than 100 digital signs, citing a court order that determined the permits for them were given out illegally under a 2006 settlement.
Clear Channel Outdoor sent a letter to the city last month threatening to sue if their permits are revoked.
Many of the current 100 signs are located throughout the Westside, including a couple signs in Brentwood.
During a news conference held in West Los Angeles Thursday, Trutanich, running for re-election, said attempts by the two companies to appeal the now four-year-old court order were rejected by the California Supreme Court last month.
"The courts have spoken," Trutanich said.
Trutanich said he would work to include digital signs into the "future of our city" by creating new policies that involve the input of various stakeholders, from the sign companies to people who live near the signs and complain the digital displays are a nuisance.
Clear Channel Outdoor representative David Grabert said today the signs will remain up as they "await the court's specific guidance in their forthcoming order."
"Until this final order, we will continue to legally operate our digital signs in L.A.," Grabert said.
In the meantime, Clear Channel has participated in the city's working group to develop a "path forward that will allow the reasonable use and location of digital signs in Los Angeles," which he said will "generate millions in salaries and taxes in the city."
The city's ordinances allow the city to shut down the digital billboards, said Tim Alger, the attorney for Summit Media, the billboard company that took the city's 2006 settlement with Clear Channel and CBS to court.
The signs were illegal when the court ordered the permits to be revoked four years ago, Alger said.
"There's no ambiguity," Alger said. "If someone erects a sign that doesn't have a permit, the city can demand its removal and go out and put plywood on it."
When the city moved to take down "super-graphics," advertisements that wrap around buildings, the city attorney "filed misdemeanor claims," Alger said.
"Why is it now, they're pussy-footing around the demolition of the signs for CBS and Clear Channel?" Alger asked.
Eric Shabsis, of Marathon Communications, visited the Brentwood Community Council on Feb. 5 to urge residents to sign a petition at takethemdown.org that calls on Clear Channel Outdoors and CBS to follow the court ruling and remove the billboards.
"CBS and Clear Channel are waging a full scale campaign to convince the Los Angeles City Council to circumvent the court ruling," Shabsis told them council.
Marathon Communications is funded by the plaintiff in the case, Summit Media.
"Our sole mission is make sure L.A. follows the law and follows Court of Appeals ruling," he said.
Mike Feuer, Trutanich's opponent in the city attorney's race, chimed in Thursday, calling the city's 2006 pact with the two billboard companies to turn 100 signs into digital displays"outrageous," while dismissing Trutanich's news conference today as a "campaign stunt."
According to Feuer, instead of "standing on a street corner trying to save his job," Trutanich should be "rising to this challenge" to defend against the lawsuit threat by Clear Channel.