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Last updateMon, 30 Mar 2015 8pm

LOS ANGELES Thursday, April 2nd 2015 2:41

  • Issue: Hikers, Bikers Angered After Mt. Hollywood Drive Opens to Cars

    Laura J. Nelson & Emily Alpert Reyes

    Date: Mar 30, 2015 

    LA opens 1.1-mile stretch of Mt. Hollywood Drive to help tourists seeking closer views of the Hollywood sign. 

    A city of Los Angeles decision to allow motorists to use a popular hiking and cycling route in Griffith Park to alleviate congestion on other hillside roads has pitted park lovers against area residents, mirroring a similar dispute in neighboring Beachwood Canyon. 


    In mid-March, the Recreation and Parks Department opened a 1.1-mile stretch of Mt. Hollywood Drive to traffic as part of a three-week trial period to ease congestion for tourists seeking close-up views of the Hollywood sign. The route, just west of Griffith Observatory, was closed to cars two decades ago. 

    But road space is at a premium as traffic in the park grows worse, officials say, and opening up new routes is something worth exploring.  (Read the rest.)  

    -cwCityWatch

    Vol 13 Issue 27

    Pub: Mar 31, 2015



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LA Coughing Up $2.1 Million to Settle 12-Year Old Billboard Lawsuit

BILLBOARD WATCH - Regency Outdoor, a West Hollywood billboard company that sued the city after being denied permits to put up new billboards in 1999, has agreed to drop the long-running federal court suit in exchange for $2.1 million.
The settlement was made with the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), which had refused to allow Regency to put up new billboards in redevelopment zones in the Hollywood and Exposition Park area. Regency had initially sought $10 million in damages, but in 2008 a judge dismissed that claim and awarded the company $14,000 in reimbursement for costs incurred in applying for the permits.

Regency appealed that decision, and in 2010 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that Regency could pursue its claim for damages.

The CRA is currently in the process of going out of business, as part of the state-mandated dissolution of redevelopment agencies and re-direction of their tax revenues to state and local governments. Ostensibly, the $2.1 million will be paid out of the CRA treasury, rather than the city’s general fund.

The actual cost of the lawsuit could exceed $3 million. According to city records as of March, 2010, the CRA had paid almost $700,000 to outside law firms hired to represent the agency.

The lawsuit is one of several high-profile cases brought by Regency against the city. In 2003, the company won a judgment in federal court forcing the city to allow supergraphic signs along the 10 Freeway and elsewhere. Company lawyers had argued that by allowing murals painted on buildings the city had to also allow commercial advertising. As a direct result of the lawsuit, which threatened to open up the city to an unlimited number of the building-sized vinyl and fabric ads, the city council approved a ban on any new murals.

Regency also sued the city for damages over the planting of palm trees at LAX, claiming that the trees interfered with clear views of several of the company’s billboards. That case went all the way to California Supreme Court, which ruled in 2006 that the city was within its rights to plant and maintain the trees in the public right-of-way.

There were also allegations at the time that Regency had been responsible for the poisoning of some of the trees, but an investigation by then-City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo found no evidence of wrongdoing by the company.

Regency has also been involved in a number of lawsuits this past decade involving other billboard companies. Late last year, a federal court jury found Regency innocent of allegations of bribery of public officials and extortion in a dispute with another billboard company over the granting of sign permits in the city of Lynwood.

But just two weeks ago, a judge ruled that Regency was liable for $2 million in damages in a case involving the Whisky A Go Go nightclub on Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood. The lawsuit brought by the club and another billboard company alleged that Regency had refused to remove its two billboards from the roof of the nightclub after its lease expired and the club negotiated a new lease with the other company.

(Dennis Hathaway is the president of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight and a contributor to CityWatch. He can be reached at dennis@banbillboardblight.org) –cw

Tags: Dennis Hathaway, billboards, signs, billboard lawsuit, regency, CRA






CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 12
Pub: Feb 10, 2012

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