Supergraphics Baron Claims Right to Expression
"Outdoor advertising entrepreneur Michael McNeilly stunned Los Angeles neighborhood activists earlier this year when he submitted documents asking a federal judge to let him keep enormous images on the sides of scores of buildings.
As he waged his legal battle against the city's sign laws, the Beverly Hills businessman contended that inspectors should be barred from ordering his company to remove supergraphics -- vinyl images that can be larger than the biggest billboard -- from 118 sites where the firm had erected them.
A Times survey of those addresses, made between Jan. 10 and Feb. 10, found that fewer than a third actually had supergraphics. Sixty-six buildings had no images at all. And 11 had posters no more than a few feet high.
The discrepancy has infuriated foes of outdoor advertising, who have accused McNeilly of trying to pass off a series of unadorned buildings -- some taller than 25 stories -- as advertising space that already exists and therefore should be exempt from a recent city sign moratorium. McNeilly's strategy, they suspect, is to secure permission for hundreds of supergraphics that would typically be rejected by building inspectors."