After a contentious three-hour hearing, Los Angeles City Council members voted to allow Anschutz Entertainment Group the right to put up a half-dozen new signs at L.A. Live's movie theater despite objections from City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.
The heated issue came to a head last week when Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose district includes L.A. Live, demanded that officials from the Department of Building and Safety explain why AEG was denied the last six of 22 sign permits it needs to put up Regal Cinemas signs.
At the hearing today, Building and Safety General Manager Raymond Chan told city council members that he believed that AEG had the right to put up billboard signs but didn't allow the permits because he was warned by the city attorney's office that he could be subject to criminal charges.
Perry, who told council members that she had also been threatened with criminal charges, argued that AEG has had exclusive developments agreements with the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment District, including AEG, since 2001.
"I am not comfortable about being represented by a guy who might get me turfed over to the District Attorney's Office," said Perry. "I am doing my job."
The signs at issue are aimed at promoting Tuesday's grand opening of Regal Cinemas, which will screen the Michael Jackson documentary ``This Is It."
Chief Deputy City Attorney William Carter argued that the city was potentially violating the city's billboard ban. Carter said Trutanich never had a problem with AEG installing billboards promoting the Jackson documentary and said those signs were considered "on-site." The city's billboard ban deals with "off-site" signs, digital billboards and supergraphics. Carter argued that Trutanich was concerned that AEG also planned to display "off-site" signs, which would be a violation of the billboard ban.
"We are trying to advise you," he said. "We have lost in court for many years." Carter suggested that the city wait a week so they could discuss the legality of the issue with the federal court judge.
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The city council declined. So did AEG.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News, drawing on his San Pedro outlook on the mess that is LA, Trutanich said:
"I'm just enforcing the laws. Right now there is a ban on digital off-site billboards.
"Where I grew up, when you said 'no more,' it means 'no more.' Up here in the central city, I guess it means something else."