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Bail reduced in deal to remove supergraphic

March 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A businessman who was arrested for wrapping a supergraphic billboard around a Hollywood building at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue is free on bail after agreeing to remove the sign. The defense attorneys believe that the city's attorneys are trying to use their client as an example with an unusually large bail amount for a misdemeanor case. Some critics believe this has everything to do with the Academy Awards being in town.

But whatever the case, the huge supergraphic will not be an Oscar shadow come Sunday because the sign has been ordered to be removed by Tuesday, which means removal will need to begin Monday night.

Kayvan Setareh, a 49-year-old man from Pacific Palisades, had his bail reduced from $1 million to $100,000 during a Monday hearing. The reduction came in exchange for his agreement to remove the oversized advertisement.

"The stipulation requires that he remove 50 percent of the sign by tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. and then remove the balance of the sign tomorrow," said Deputy City Attorney David Shepherd.

Setareh was arrested Friday and remained in jail through the weekend held on $1 million bail.

The advertisement covers eight stories and is advertising a movie called "How To Train Your Dragon."

Setareh allegedly arranged to have the sign, known as a supergraphic, posted at one of Hollywood's busiest intersections. In the arrest warrant, the businessman is accused of three misdemeanor city code violations.

"It doesn't justify $1 million. It doesn't even justify $100,000, but my client wanted to get out," Stein said.

The city attorney's office said Setareh was warned via letters and e-mails not to hang a supergraphic on the building without a permit. Setareh's attorney, Andrew Stein, says he has seen no evidence that his client was warned not to post the ad.

"I think it's clear that the city attorney's office has taken an aggressive position on billboard and outdoor advertising. The days when you can ignore the laws, they're done," said Senior Assistant City Attorney Chuck Goldenberg. ""This is an individual who was warned and had opportunities to comply with the law and he did not."

"He's going to fight the charges. We'll research it and if it's a crime, he'll plead to a disposition. He'll agree not to do it again if it's a crime. If it's not a crime, you'll see a new sign on that building some day when the judge rules it's legal," said Stein.

Arraignment was postponed until March 30.

Last year, the Los Angeles City Council approved an ordinance banning supergraphics, saying the enormous signs distract drivers, could fall and injure people if they're not properly installed, and simply do not look good on the streets.

L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich is going after outdoor advertising companies. He recently filed a lawsuit over a dozen other supergraphics at locations across the city.

In a statement, Trutanich said, "The days of lax and inconsistent enforcement of billboard and outdoor advertising laws in this city are over."

Legal experts believe Trutanich set Setareh's bail at $1 million to make an example of the businessman. Setareh will be arraigned either Monday or Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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