MAGAZINES & PRESS - COMPLETED STREET PROJECTS - PUBLIC AD CAMPAIGN BLOG

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Is NPA Shutting Down And Letting Contest Promotions Take Over?

Photo Shai Dahan, 37th & 3rd avenue

In the past few days I have noticed that in NYC a large number of NPA's illegal street level billboards have been covered with white paper. This comes in the wake of over 15 NPA ads in LA going white just over a week ago. The fact that the illegal billboards in NY and LA did not get new copy immediately after being whited out makes me think that this is NPA's doing and not the work of protestors. Why they are doing this I cannot be sure, but it should be noted that NPA's website is offline while their sister company, Contest Promotions, is still up and running.
18th street and 10th avenue
We all know NPA operates illegally in both cities so it might be expected that the recent removal of Fuel Outdoor ads due to their illegality, and the jailing of a landlord responsible for an illegal supergraphic in LA, has caused the company to shut down completely. If this were true, one would expect all of the companies illegal locations to be whited out, but that's not what we are seeing. In fact I have seen NPA locations around the city covered only sporadically. Sometimes from a single vantage point you can see one NPA ad that has been covered white and one that still retains copy. So what is going on?
I believe that NPA is finally shutting down and letting Contest Promotions takeover its illegal sign business. Through a twisting of words and meaning, the new business model adopted by Contest Promotions is attempting to legalize a portion of the illegal signage NPA was running. To understand what Contest Promotions does with NPA illegal signage in order to make them legal we suggest Ban Billboard Blight's post, "Contest Promotions Signs: Helping Mom & Pop Stores, or Creating Illegal Blight?"
If we are correct and Contest Promotions is taking over, only the signs that are placed on the sides of buildings where a viable business operates with an attendant on duty to man a bogus raffle box, would be legal. And indeed this is what we are seeing in most areas of NY. Locations like 19th street and 9th avenue (above) where there is a pizza shop open still have copy, while places like 37th street and 3rd avenue, which appears to be office space, have gone white.
Another way to tell if the NPA signage will likely fall into Contest Promotions hands under the assumption of legality, is by looking at the placards on all NPA signs. If the sign reads "Win these posters and other prizes inside, La Casa Del Pan, at 3802 Broadway avenue." or some other actual business, this sign will likely be taken by Contest Promotions. On the other hand, if the sign reads "Coming soon to this location, win these posters and other prizes inside." this location will not be viable as there is no business to operate their phony raffle boxes. From what we can tell those locations with a placard that refers to the business inside have retained copy while those without a valid business have gone white over the past few days.
Union avenue & Ainslie street
And if we are right about NPA going under and allowing Contest Promotions to takeover in a bid for legality, all of the wildposting locations around the city should be removed as Contest Promotions cannot justify this illegal activity. And sure enough, after the heavy rains last week I noticed many of the illegal wildposting locations NPA operated at construction sites and other locations around the city were either scrapped clean or postered white. It seemed that overnight many of the blatantly illegal wildposting locations were removed in a coordinated effort. I have seen people try to remove wildpostings from construction fences when they are dry and it is nearly impossible. I think NPA, knowing this, took advantage of the weather and removed illegal wildposting locations around the city knowing that they were going under and Contest Promotions was taking over.
14th street & 9th avenue
One last interesting thing we have noticed is that certain locations which could be operated by Contest Promotions under the guise of legality have still gone white. In the second image on this post you will see two NPA ads, one white, one with copy. They are both adhered to the same parking lot and one would assume they would both retain copy because there is a Contest Promotions raffle box at the parking agent house. It so happens that one of these locations is visible from the High Line park and because of this would be illegal under NYC law regardless of permitting, etc. We hope that this means that Contest Promotions will at least be operating within the confines of NYC law even if they are misconstruing the use of 1st party signage against all reason.
We can't say for sure that these NPA locations are without copy because of this transfer of ownership in an attempt to "go legal," but it seems likely. NPA has never been one to stand down without being pressured to do so. Recent litigation in San Francisco and a pledge from the city of NY to take the illegal public advertising issue more seriously, I believe has made it difficult for NPA operate so blatantly. We only hope that the efforts of hundreds of NYSAT participants, including those arrested by the NYPD for protesting the illegal signage, were in some way responsible for this change in direction and move towards a more commercial free public space.
We will keep you posted if things change, or our theory is proved correct. Until then we hope Contest Promotions looses its battle with San Francisco, and that their bogus scheme to keep operating a portion of NPA's illegal signage is proven to be just that, bogus.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

The Mad Men of Los Angeles

Christine Pelisek has written an incredibly articulate article on the nature of LA's illegal outdoor advertising problem. She spoke to us and included the Weave It! piece we did while out in LA not too long ago. The one thing I would note is that while illegal signage is problematic, it is the use of public space for commercial interest that is really the issue. We should remain aware of this and not give up once illegal signs are removed. Eventually we should take after Sao Paolo and ban it all, period.

The Mad Men of Los Angeles
Living the good life, thanks to the big profits from illegal outdoor advertising

by Christine Pelisek

Supergraphic multimillionaire Barry Rush couldn't have been pleased to hear a few weeks ago that Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich had taken the audacious step of jailing a compatriot in arms, a Hollywood landlord who, for an undisclosed sum, cut a deal with a shadowy firm that draped an illegal supergraphic around a historic Hollywood Boulevard building. [More Here]

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Eddie Colla Hits LA Hard

Eddie Colla, a participant in the recent Manifest Equality exhibition out in LA, just posted this video to Vimeo. In it you will find shots of the show but more importantly, Eddie taking out a slew of illegal NPA ads in LA. I find this to be a wonderful example of proper use of public space. These messaging boards normally run the gamut of terrible corporate ad campaigns as evidenced by the poster for Repo Men, but their potential to be used to promote public concerns is exemplified in Eddie's recent activities. How incredible would it be if these spaces were typically used by the average citizen to express their concerns on pertinent social issues like gay marriage.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

The World Has Gone Mad And We Couldn't Be Happier

photo from Unurth

It seems these days residents are taking back their walls in growing numbers. In the past few weeks we have seen NPA's illegal ads in LA targeted by Eddie Colla, and unidentified residents resulting in the removal of over 20 billboards for public communications. And then there was this pinwheel project by an unknown artist in New York not more than a week ago. And now this recent image comes to us from Unurth with no one to lay praise on. Has the world gone mad or has the public taken its responsibility more seriously? It would seem the latter as NPA's illegal signage is being targeted ferociously. Now if only we would see the city respond to these actions in the appropriate manner and begin the removal of all NPA ad frames, or even better, their conversion to public messaging boards!

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Friday, March 12, 2010

15 Illegal NPA Signs Go White In LA






A friend and reader in LA, Stefan Kloo, just sent us images of 15 NPA advertisements that were whited out by an unnamed party recently. The last image, which has a "free humanity" stencil sprayed onto the blank billboard makes me think this wasn't the city of LA cracking down, but a public protest of the illegal signage similar to the NYSAT project. If anyone has any info on this matter, please tell us what you know.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Now You See Them, Now You Don’t: Fuel Outdoor Signs in L.A. Coming Down

In an unusually progressive move by an outdoor advertising company, Fuel Outdoor has begun removing signs in New York, and now LA, reports BBB. Of course this isn't some magnificent act of altruism but the result of a lengthy legal battle which finally ended in a decision against the offending company. We thought the signs might stay up despite the supreme court decision but the Fuel obviously knows better. Now what to do with all the empty frames they will leave behind on structures where removal might take some real elbow grease?

VIA Ban Billboard Blight

Fuel Outdoor, the rogue sign company that failed to win a lawsuit challenging the city’s right to ban new off-site advertising signs, has begun taking down the movie-poster style signs installed without permits in a number of locations. Whether the New York-based company intends to remove all its estimated 200-plus signs is not known. [More Here]

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Eddie Colla-NPA Advertising Takeover

VIA Arrested Motion

Looks like one of the artists in the recently opened Manifest Equality exhibition decided NPA's illegal advertising needed better content. Arrested Motion was there to catch all of the action.

"As an added bonus, AM got the opportunity to accompany Manifest Hope/Equality artist Eddie Colla as he blanketed Hollywood with his Anti-Prop 8 propaganda. Check out the full pictorial recap of the show and the streets after the jump."

Oddly, I was not aware of Eddie Colla's work. They explain it like this...
"There is a visual conversation that takes place on the streets of urban environments. This conversation is dominated primarily by advertising and utilitarian signage and assumes passive participation. Whether invited or not I am going to participate in this conversation. Public spaces were never intended to be coated from top to bottom with photos of consumer products. These spaces should, in some manner, reflect the culture that thrives in that space.

Some people view what I do as vandalism. I assume that their objection is that I alter the landscape without permission. Advertising perpetually alters our environment without the permission of it’s inhabitants. The only difference is that advertisers pay for the privilege to do so and I don’t. So if you’re going to call me anything, it is more accurate to call me a thief."

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

California Mural Madness-Phil Lumbang on John Stossel


We happened to be in LA for the taping of this Fox News section and were on site when the neighbor across the street who initially complained, decided to weigh in on what he called a violent and obnoxious mural. Odd thing was the guy was sporting a t-shirt that read something about anarchy and was drinking tea out of a sex pistols God save the queen mug. How Bizarre!

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Businessman held on $1-million bail in supergraphic case

The LA times is reporting that a businessman was arrested and is being held on $1-million bail for posting an eight-story movie advertisement in Hollywood. It is about time arrests became an integral part of dealing with the perpetrators of crimes against the public. There may be issues with safety in regards to supergraphic signs but no one addresses the issue of our collective public health. On a daily basis commercial messages assault the senses, steal valuable space in our minds, and manipulate the public interest to fit commercial desires altering the very fabric of our society. This makes all advertising in public a crime as far as I am concerned and it should be met with the appropriate police response.

Businessman held on $1-million bail in supergraphic case


In a dramatic escalation of the war against illegal supergraphics in Los Angeles, authorities have jailed a businessman accused of posting an eight-story movie advertisement on an office building at one of Hollywood's busiest intersections. [More Here]

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Major Campaign Donors, Friends of City Council Members Have Connections to Rogue Sign Company Named by City Attorney in Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit

As per usual, Ban Billboard Blight gets right to the point when revealing outdoor advertising's soft underbelly. Here they expose NPA, a company we have been at odds with in NY, for the ad pushers they are, citing over $85,000 in campaign contributions to the city of LA. As Ban Billboard Blight has their hands full in LA, we can only hope that their progress on the west coast stirs action on ours.

VIA Ban Billboard Blight

Peter Zackery, president of National Promotions and Advertising (NPA), a company specializing in poster-style advertising on construction fences and billboards on outside walls of liquor stores, donut shops and other small businesses, is one of the defendants in the major lawsuit filed this week against World Wide Rush, a company accused of putting up numerous illegal supergraphic signs. Another NPA executive, Gary Shafner, was not named in the suit, but is prominently mentioned in court filings in an unrelated case as having been involved in the initial establishment of World Wide Rush in the L.A. market three years ago. [More Here]

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Faith47 Provides A Striking Alternative

Faith 47 is fast becoming one of my favorite artists world wide. Her incredible dedication to the street, and the people who her work comes in contact with, can be seen in every piece she does. Her use of public space is an inspiration to me and exemplifies what good can come when someone is allowed to create openly in our shared environments. From the intimate moments to the looming murals, her work is dead serious while being uplifting and filed with hope. She recently sent me some images that I would like to share with you in part because they are such wonderfully stark contrasts to the Supergraphics I saw in LA.

Faith 47 told us this mural is 12x18 meters and was create in Johannesburg.


This image is wonderful example of Faith 47's more intimate pieces.

In contrast to Faith 47's work I took all of these images from within a 100 yard vantage point outside of my hotel in West Hollywood LA. The almost carnivalesque nature these messages add to this environment is overwhelming and oppressive. I can only imagine what it might feel like if Faith 47 were allowed access to all these walls and what a different experience this space might be.





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Appeals Court Rules NYC Can Limit Billboards

The long standing battle between Metro Fuel and the City of New York has finally come to a conclusion. The result according to the AP...
"A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the city did not violate the First Amendment by limiting the number of billboards along its roadways and parks. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the city's goals of reducing visual clutter, improving the overall aesthetic appearance of the city and regulating traffic safety were reasonable."
Long story short, Metro Fuel erected hundreds of Metro Light structures in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other major metropolitan cities. When New York went after the company in an effort to have them removed them, Metro Fuel cried foul and began a lengthy legal battle claiming they had the right to post advertising under the First Amendment. The full ruling, after incredible resources have been spent by the city, can be seen here.

As OAC's are not one to listen to the law in most cases, we were surprised to see the North Shore Neon Sign Co. decommissioning several signs on 21st street today. When asked, the crane operators said that they were in fact removing almost all of the signs from New York. Amazing! This is most likely because in NY, penalties for illegally operating outdoor signage are pretty hefty, when they are enforced. One can imagine that the revenue created by continuing to operate these illegal signs wouldn't make up for the massive losses incurred if the city decided to enforce their removal.

But what about other cities like San Francisco, and particularly like Los Angeles where the fines are not as hefty and where the simple task of locating all of these signs might cost the city hundreds of thousands in tax payer dollars? Will these signs come down? It would seem Los Angeles could demand their removal and forgo the treasure hunt but this is unlikely. Only time will tell how this situation will be dealt with and we will keep you informed.

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How Many Billboards?, Los Angeles

According to Unurth this morning, the How Many Billboards Project has begun. Not all of the artworks have been put up but I expect more will follow shortly. We are super excited to see LA begin to consider the role of media in public space and its tendency to obliterate other forms of visual practices. I hope a project like this can spark the imagination of many and allow them to ponder alternative uses of our shared environment.

VIA
Unurth

Kerry Tribe

For several days this billboard has been pleasing, entertaining and intriguing me.
I've finally found out that it's part of 'How many billboards?', a project by the MAK Center for Art and Architecture. It's like a glossier, more authorized version of the New York Street Advertising Takeover (NYSAT). (MORE HERE)

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Weave It! NPA City Outdoor/PublicAdCampaign Collaboration-Los Angeles

The most recent Weave It! piece was put up while I was on a trip in Los Angeles and was installed at the corner of Sunset and Parkman street. I installed it around midnight on Friday, February 12th, and sadly it seems this is right around the time NPA puts up their illegal posters. When I came back on Saturday morning the piece had already been removed. Ill be heading back to Los Angeles a bit in the next few months and will make sure I don't go out on Fridays this time around.



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Monday, February 8, 2010

Los Angeles' Weather Doesn't Make the Problem Any Better

I just got out to LA for a bit of work, to catch up with some friends, and to check out the utterly horrendous outdoor advertising scene. Yes the digital billboards are out of control, the supergraphic on the side of my hotel is enormous and overwhelming, and yes the Metro Fuel ads, to which the Supreme court delivered a final blow recently, are still getting copy. Tomorrow it's off to see the Philip Lumbang mural that is causing such an uproar all for myself.

In the meantime I leave you with the How Many Billboards? Art in Stead project, presented by the MAK Center for Art and Architecture.
"Twenty-one works in the vein of California's conceptual art movement have been commissioned to critically respond to the medium of the billboard and interpret its role in the urban landscape. Investigating art as an idea as well as art as a media for critical intervention, the exhibition highlights the interaction of Pop, conceptualism and architecture in Los Angeles since the late 1960s."
Although I don't entirely agree with Kimberly, her statement does propose a more beneficent public space and one that begins to call into question advertising's role in the public environment.

Kimberli Meyer's statement:
"The philosophical proposition of the exhibition is simple: art should occupy a visible position in the cacophony of mediated images in the city, and it should do so without merely adding to the visual noise. How Many Billboards? Art In Stead proposes that art periodically displace advertisement in the urban environment.

Billboards are a dominant feature of the landscape in Los Angeles. Thousands line the city's thoroughfares, delivering high-end commercial messages to a repeat audience. Given outdoor advertising's strong presence in public space, it seems reasonable and exciting to set up the possibility for art to be present in this field. The sudden existence of artistic speech mixed in with commercial speech provides a refreshing change of pace. Commercial messaging tells you to buy; artistic messaging encourages you to look and to think." [More Here]

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Reader Post Comment Response or Why Advertising And Public Space Are Inherently At Odds With One Another

A PublicAdCampaign reader named Dennis made a wonderful comment regarding the Philip Lumbang cuddly bear disaster in LA and I wanted to respond. He writes...
"The bloggers and commenters shaking their heads over this story need to look beyond the obvious. This kind of situation was created by our friends in the outdoor advertising industry who have used every legal tactic to destroy the ability of cities to control billboards, supergraphic signs, and other conveyances of outdoor advertising. In a nutshell, they have argued in court that the city is guilty of unconstitutional discrimination if it treats a fine-art mural differently than a supergraphic sign. In other words, if it permits a mural on a wall, it can't prohibit a sign for Nike or McDonald's across the street. There is ongoing litigation about this, but as of now the city jeopardizes its sign regulations if it issues permits for murals, or fails to act on complaints about unpermitted murals.
Dennis makes an incredibly important point here which speaks to the fact that outdoor advertising and a healthy public space are two incompatible ideas. Advertising by its very nature must control public space, dominate it, in order to have the most influence over public thought in order to push commercial consumption. This control is not only seen in outdoor advertising language which often describes its presence as dominating, but also in its legal tactics which attempt to strip the city of its ability to protect itself from advertising's ravaging behavior. (as evidenced by Dennis' comment)

What is sacrificed in the wake of advertising's constant land grab and volatile tactics, is the public's ability to use its own judgment on how to curate our shared environments. If the permit issue was not at hand in this current LA mural atrocity, the issue of whether or not to let this mural stay up would be decided by a neighborhood board. The single resident that is taking issue with the mural, calling it "ghetto," would be out voted by the many residents who love the mural and it would be allowed to stay. The public ultimately should be responsible for the curation of our shared spaces and the fact that the city must enforce rulings which do not agree with public sentiment is the horrendous result of how advertising alters and controls our public spaces for the worst.

For this reason, outdoor advertising must not be allowed in public space. A good example of this is a story I come back to routinely. One of the problematic things that outdoor advertising does to our environment is that it assigns a monetary value to public walls, or rather private walls that face the public and therefore have a direct affect on public consciousness. Without a monetary value, public walls can be used for a myriad of things, the value of which is determined by the benefit that use brings to the property owner and the community as a whole.

Take for example a typical corner deli in New York City with an entrance on one side and a blank wall on the other. Now imagine this deli is in close proximity to a public school. This school might ask the deli owner or landlord to use the blank wall for a mural made by the students of one of the classes. Without monetary value, the landlord would be inclined to say yes, knowing that the mural will not only benefit the students, giving them a sense of self worth and physical investment in the neighborhood, but also attract the approval of the community which will then patronize the store.

A moral obstacle arises once this public wall has monetary value. The landlord or deli owner must now decide between receiving a small paycheck for the rental of this public wall, versus the benefits it might have for the community at large. I don't believe we can expect people to disregard the inherent value ascribed by outdoor advertising firms to public space. This would be expecting a self sacrifice for the greater good that simply does not agree with our ego centric capitalist societal values. The answer then is to simply eliminate the motivation to strip our communities of a valuable resource, public space, by preventing outdoor advertising from prescribing monetary value to our shared environment.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Aesthetics Police

Seems like even Fox News agrees with us, and the residents of LA, on the recent proposal to remove Phil Lumbang's simply adorable street mural.

VIA John Stossel's Take

Phil Lumbang is an artist who creates charming drawings of bears, raccoons and other happy creatures; his work appealed to Amy Seidenwurm and Russell Bates. They commissioned Lumbang to paint a mural on the wall in front of their home. Everyone seems to love the mural; people stop to take pictures in front of it. Everyone was cool with it, it seems, except one neighbor who complained the mural made the street “seem ghetto.” [MORE HERE]

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

“Renegade Sign Bandits” Call Attention to Fuel Outdoor’s Illegal Billboards

Ban Billboard Blight reports that "renegade sign bandits" have hit the streets of LA plastering Fuel Outdoors' illegal signage with violation notices from the city of LA. It should be noted that New York is also a victim of Fuel Outdoor and it's illegal advertising signage. According to BBB, "A spokesperson for the L.A. Department of Building and Safety confirmed that the city had nothing to do the notices." Clearly this is a public reaction to LA's unwillingness to follow through with sign removal after a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision not to hear Metrolights' appeal put the final nail in the coffin that is their legal battle to legitimize their illegal signage business. More [HERE]

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Should OAC's Be Subject To The Same Penalties Grafitti Writers Face?

BC Biermann, a PhD Assistant Professor of Film/Media Studies California Baptist University – Riverside has recently published a paper on "Spatial Distributions of Power: Illegal Billboards as Graffiti in Los Angeles." In it he argues...
"While graffiti has regularly been prosecuted as form of vandalism, illegal billboards have not. Illegal billboards are generally defined as panels for the display of advertisements in public places (such as alongside highways or on the sides of buildings) that have not received the legal permits and safety inspections; panels that display ads not related to structure or property they are affixed to may also quality as “unlawful.” It is my contention that illegal billboards are a form of graffiti and, as a result, should be prosecuted as a form of vandalism."
In this paper, Mr. Biermann comes to some conclusions that have informed our practice here at PublicAdCampaign for years. In fact, he calls upon the NYSAT project (without credit) as an example of civil disobedience that attempts to challenge commercial control of public messages while promoting a more just public arena, interested in promoting individual identity and citizen directed spatial control.

I highly suggest reading the paper, but if you don't have the time, ill leave you with the final 2 sentences.
In this way, via a constant bombardment of a hegemonic truth, corpo-political regimes control the means by which individuals seek to know, decipher, and act on themselves. Acting as if they were free in within a liberal, democratic system of rule, the good consumer citizen is calculatedly and spatially constructed.
Indeed, this is truly about who we are and who we want to be as people and a society. When our influences come from the corporate machine, we have a hard time defining for ourselves the truths with which we would like to live.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Philip Lumbang Commision To Be Removed By Los Angeles City

If you follow LA advertising issues, and you should if you enjoy this site, you know how insanely difficult it is to have illegal signage removed even after the city has deemed the advertisement in violation. As it turns out, getting art murals removed is a hell of a lot easier. Artist Philip Lumbang, a recent NYSAT participant, was commissioned to do this mural in a residential area of LA. According to him it is being slated for removal after a single resident complained about it. Now I'm sorry, but something is very very wrong when it takes the city less than a week to remove artwork and over a year to remove huge illegal supergraphics. It makes you want to go out and do what the city can't do for itself, tear these eyesores down with your bare hands. This is all on top of the fact that this mural is actually blocks from a preschool that you can be sure enjoys this neighborhood addition on a daily basis. God help us all when our public space becomes a venue for the sale of commercial items and cannot serve the actual people who live and breath in our cities. Asked to fill us in, the Philip explains the situation like this...
I'm a lil fuzzy on it myself but, I painted that in a residential neighborhood as a commission. And for the last year it has been riding high, but for some reason one of the neighbors decided to call the city about it to complain. And I guess the deal is you can't have a mural on private residential property or some bs like that. I guess it's on the same guide lines as shop keepers maintaining a clean facade with no graffiti. But it's pretty stupid because from what I understand is that pretty much everyone loves that mural except for that one person that called it in and to top it off it is right next door to a preschool. So no the kids are missing out. Oh and get this to even try a petition to keep the wall you have to pay like $1500 or some obscene amount so the city could even consider not taking it down.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Graffiti, Billboards, and Reclaiming Public Space Appropriated by Illegal Advertising

The most recent post written by Dennis on Ban Billboard blight asks what the difference is between illegal advertising and graffiti, or what I would refer to as scrawl since I know many extremely talented graffiti artists. After citing LA Municipal code's definition of graffiti he comes to the conclusion that they are indeed very similar despite one being a serious crime punishable by serious jail time, while the other often seems to be quietly tolerated by most cities in our country.

I would add that there is another huge difference which I think is often overlooked and which makes graffiti the lesser crime, or at least the one done out of neccessity or survival, while advertising is done for pure profit. Many sociological looks at graffiti practitioners, including several wonderful books by Jeff Ferrell, make the point that graffiti is an outlet of expression for many youth which find themselves unable to assert their identity in our society. Constantly bombarded by corporate iconography and invisible in a cities of millions flying from one place to the next, tagging your surroundings becomes a way to integrate yourself into the city's fabric. Tagging may not be the best way to do so but we have to admit that there might be a social failure at work here, instead of seeing it as an aggressive act of destruction at the hands of deranged youth, that so often describes graffiti practice.

In fact here at PublicAdCampaign we have come to believe that actively altering your public space has enormous psychological benefits for those participating in the act. The act of altering your public space creates a link between the person who made the alteration and the space in which that alteration was made. This bond engenders a sense of responsibility for that space. Someone who feels responsibility for parts of the city will protect that space because in fact that space is now a representation of yourself.

Graffiti may not be the best or most appreciated way for individuals to create psychic connections with their public environment but we think it is just that. If we accept this fact then we might do better spending our tax dollars on programs which allow youth to create meaningful bonds with their city environment instead of hunting them down and throwing them in jail. If we do this we might even find our city beautified by public mural projects, community gardens, neighborhood festivities and a more lively public space that pleases the senses instead of insulting our intelligence.


VIA Ban Billboard Blight

What is the difference between those who spray paint gang slogans and other kinds of graffiti on public walls and companies that put up illegal billboards and supergraphic signs? What is the difference, fundamentally, between graffiti and illegal outdoor advertising? Both make a claim on public space, saying “Look at this!” without observing any laws or considering that citizens might deserve a voice in what they’re forced to see when they drive, walk, or otherwise experience their urban environment.[MORE]

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mobile Billboards: Bringing More Air Pollution, Traffic Congestion, Parking Problems

I love Ban Billboard Blight for their continued coverage of LA based outdoor advertising issues. In their most recent post on mobile billboards they pose this question...
So how should we regard the rapidly-growing phenomenon of mobile billboards mounted on trucks and trailers and driven through the streets or left sitting for days in highly sought-after parking spaces? As inevitable manifestations of commercial enterprise, or as destructive, anti-social assaults on our shared public spaces that ought to banned forthwith?
The San Francisco ordinance banning mobile advertising is explained like this...
By their nature, commercial advertising vehicles are intended to distract, and aim to capture and hold the attention of, members of the public on or adjoining public streets, including drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and others. Moreover, such vehicles display commercial advertising from a mobile platform, including while the vehicle is moving within the flow of traffic, potentially stopping, starting, or turning abruptly, accentuating the inherent tendency of such advertising to seize attention and to distract. Additionally, the use of motor vehicles to display commercial advertising creates exhaust emissions. For these reasons, the Board of Supervisors finds that commercial advertising vehicles create aesthetic blight and visual clutter and create potential and actual traffic and health and safety hazards.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Metrolights Appeal: Will Those Illegal Billboards Now Come Down?

Now that Metro Fuel has exhausted its options trying to legalize the non-permitted city signs they installed years ago without any discussion with the city of New York, we should see them come down. How fast this will happen is a matter of debate.

VIA Ban Billboard Blight

The legal battle over the hundreds of movie poster-style billboards put up in L.A. without permits the past five years apparently reached an end today, when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review an appellate court decision that the city’s off-site sign ban can be used to prohibit the company’s signs. [More Here]

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Judge Says 2006 Lawsuit Settlement Allowing Digital Billboards in L.A. is Illegal, Calls Agreement Between City and Billboard Companies “Poison”


Via Ban Billboard Blight

Superior Court Judge Terry Green ruled today that the lawsuit settlement giving Clear Channel and CBS Outdoor the right to convert 840 conventional billboards to digital violated the law by exempting those conversions from any zoning regulations or requirements for notice and public hearings. [More Here]

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

L.A. Considers Anti-Graffiti Coating for Every Building, Paint-Matching Program Begins in Santa Clarita

Photo by northwestgangs via Flickr

Today the Los Angeles City Council will consider a new city ordinance that would require all buildings--yes, residential homes, too--to be anti-graffiti coated from the ground to at least nine feet. However, owners may choose to skip the requirement as long as they sign an agreement that any graffiti on their building will be removed within seven days, according to the Daily News. That's a good exception because the coating can discolor a surface or are not always environmentally friendly. And not to mention the burden of time and money on families.

Meanwhile, the city of Santa Clarita is set to unveil a Paint Matching Trailer to be used by the Graffiti Task Force. "The City’s Graffiti Ordinance states that property owners must remove graffiti on businesses and residences within seven days from the date when properties are tagged," according to a city advisory. "The City’s new Paint Matching Trailer will enable the Graffiti Task Force to provide paint matching services to local property owners, which will expedite the required removal of graffiti on private property."

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

City Attorney Trutanich Goes After Pocketbook of Rogue Billboard Company

Considering the law, and simple respect for the public's wishes doesn't deter outdoor advertising companies from operating illegally in our shared common spaces, penalties are the only way to curb aggressive media takeovers of our public environment. Often these penalties seem outrageously large to the layman, but are in fact much less than is needed to stop illegal billboards from blighting the public.

VIA Ban Billboard Blight

Two years ago, a company called L.A. Outdoor Advertising put up full-sized billboards along the north side of the Harbor freeway downtown. There were some problems with this—the company hadn’t obtained any permits and the billboards violated various sections of the city’s sign code relating to height and freeway proximity, in addition to the general prohibition on off-site advertising signs.

The city cited the company, and predictably, the company reacted by suing in federal court to block enforcement. Now, as the suit works its way through the legal system, newly-elected City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has filed a counterclaim seeking more than $6 million in damages and an order requiring the removal of three of the billboards, which are on private property but less than 100 feet from the roadway.

This welcome action addresses an ongoing complaint about enforcement of sign regulations—that the penalties for violations are so insignificant that a company eyeing the considerable revenue from billboards and supergraphic signs in prime locations like the freeways will simply consider it a cost of doing business.

That complaint is valid if the city relies on the penalty in the municipal code for sign violations—a maximum of $100 a day. However, the municipal code also states that any violation may be designated a “public nuisance” and subject to a fine of up to $2,500 a day. That provision hasn’t been used in the past for sign code violations, for reasons that could be open to speculation, but include the fact that the building department can’t simply levy the fine but must rely on legal action by the City Attorney.

The City Attorney has also gone after the owners of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and the company that put up a huge supergraphic sign on one side of the historic building without permits.

No doubt these cases will drag through the courts for some time before any final resolution. But if the city prevails, it could throw a big monkey wrench into the strategy of rogue sign companies, which is to put billboards and supergraphic signs wherever they can get property owners to sign leases, then sue when inspectors come around to point out the violations of the sign code.

These companies appear to be operating on the theory that even if they ultimately lose in court they stand to make millions in the interim from advertising revenue. If they could lose all or most of that revenue, they might think twice before digging that hole in the ground or hanging that ad over the side of a building.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

From “Bank of Hollywood Building” to “Patron Tequila”: The Evolution of an Historic Roof Sign

VIA Ban Billboard Blight

Anyone prowling Hollywood after dark has probably seen the very large, flashing, Vegas-like image of a tequila bottle atop a 12-story building at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine. But few of those persons probably know that the sign originally spelled out the legend, “Bank of Hollywood Building” in 10 ft. high letters without benefit of...[MORE]

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Eyesore of the Week: Brought to You By CBS Outdoor

Ban Billboard Blight always does a good job of shining a light on outdoor advertising's shortcomings and general double talk. This recent post is no different.

VIA Ban Billboard Blight

This billboard on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood is just a stone’s throw from the glitzy intersections of Sunset & Vine and Hollywood & Vine. [MORE]

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