Install Advertising Banners on Swarthmore
Uber banners were attached to the street light poles along Swarthmore Avenue in Palisades Village in March. Now they are coming down. A May 13 email from Street Services Assistant Director Megan Hackney said, “We anticipate the banners will be removed this week. Hopefully this solves the problem at this time.”
In March, a resident contacted Circling the News and wrote, “The street-pole banners on Swarthmore are in violation of the City of Los Angeles ordinance prohibiting such advertising in the public right of way.
“The poles belong to the City of Los Angeles, are located on the public sidewalk, and illuminate the public right of way. Residents assume that Caruso ‘sold’ the poles to Uber for advertising, even though they belong to the public. If so, this may be a crime against the City of Los Angeles, perpetrated by Caruso and Uber (California Penal Code 484pc for under $1,000, and 487pc for over $1,000).
“The City of Los Angeles only permits street-pole banners on city property that benefit a non-profit entity, and the City must be paid a permit fee for each light pole utilized,” the reader wrote.
New streetlights were installed along Swarthmore in about 1995. They were destroyed during the Palisades Village construction project in 2017. The City required Caruso to install the light poles as a condition for development.
Since Swarthmore is a public street, as are its sidewalks, CTN contacted Ansar Mustava, who works with banners at Street Services. He responded on March 20 and said he spoke to Caruso’s development and security team.
He wrote in an email, “They informed me the Uber Banners are on are their poles within their property line. I did a quick search and they did pull a B permit and they have in fact included the cost of the new streetlights (8 total) maintained by them on the permit.”
“Furthermore, the City of Los Angeles Banner Installation program is receiving zero funds in regard to those specific banners and has not issued any permits for those banners,” Mustava wrote, saying that he was no longer with banner installations, but to now contact Eddie Chavez.
CTN contacted Chavez and was put in touch with Megan Hackney, who responded on March 22 that “We are looking into this. We will get back to you as soon as we have a definitive answer and some direction—hopefully next week.”
On April 11, CTN shared a reader’s comment with Hackney that “even if streetlights are required to be maintained by another entity, don’t they have to follow the Pacific Palisades Commercial Village and Neighborhood Specific Plan and its signage requirements?”
The reader then asked for a clarification. “Is the City saying that if someone puts up new streetlights along a City street and agrees to maintain them, they don’t have to follow the rules?”
Hackney replied the same day.
“Sorry for the delay. . .as this is sort of a special situation, we haven’t really had to deal with this issue before,’ she wrote in an email.
“We have asked our City Attorney for Guidance. Since the poles are not owned by the City, we don’t think the Banner Ordinance pertains to them. However…they are in the public right-of-way, so permits and plans may be a factor.”
In a follow up email, Hackney said, “We weren’t forfeiting the public right-of-way. That’s why we were conferring with the City Attorney’s Office to get direction. As soon as we get direction, we will let you know.”
On Sunday, since it was almost two months since the original complaint, CTN sent a May 12 follow up email asking if the City Attorney should be contacted directly.
Hackney responded that the banners would come down. CTN replied, “Were the banners illegal? If the Palisades Village tries to put up future banners, may people report them?”
“There are still discussions as to if/what ordinance the banners would violate, as this is a bit of a one-of-a-kind situation,” Hackney responded. “If future issues come up, contact us and we’ll work it out.”
Great reporting, Sue!
Good catch by an informed citizen. Good work by CTN.
Sue, you are tireless on our behalf! Don’t let anybody steal you, OK? You ARE all the news that’s fit to print.