City inspectors in August visited retail businesses along a busy block of Ventura Boulevard to make sure they had removed illegal window signs after being cited earlier in the summer.
Inspectors for the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety toured the 11300 block of Ventura Boulevard in the last week of August and thanked the businesses for complying with citations issued in June and July. The citations reflected a new effort to enforce sign laws that have been on the books for nearly two decades.
Clevester Brooks, the manager at said the store has been "in business here for 30 years [and we] have never received a complaint" before he got a citation in June.
To get around city ordinances, Video West designated many of the movie posters in his windows as merchandise rather than removing them altogether. The change allows the posters to remain up without violating city law.
"They have moved the neon sign back, and now all of the movie posters are for sale," Brooks said. "They are working on a permit for all of the white lettering, but the seasonal items and the name of the business can stay."
Department spokesman Dave Lara said that other businesses along the Ventura Boulevard corridor are moving towards compliance.
Pria Mehendale of the City Planning Department said, "Most people don't know about this law; it depends on the property owner." So far, she said, about a half dozen of the business owners have sought permits for their signs; others have removed non-complying signs.
The owner of the Makiyaki II sushi restaurant, Jay Hwany, said, "I was permitted all of my four signs a year ago when a friend who was a general contractor said he had to do it that way."
Brian Mazor of the Frame Store complied by getting a permit after several trips and paying $200.
Francisco Gamero—owner of U-Wash Doggie, a pet grooming business—said, "I had to take it all down, and now only my merchandise can be in the window."
Magician Brent Geris of the Magic Apple, on the second floor of a mini-mall complex, said, "It's done and its resolved." He added, "Is it going to hurt my business? Yeah, maybe in the long run. People who don't know we're here may miss the signs."
Toward the end of August, a sign on the Magic Apple window was being scraped off, and the window was being washed. "It's not worth getting the permits to put up more signs," Geris said, adding that a neighboring pizza restaurant paid more than $500 to be in compliance with his signs.
"At $150, plus five trips and then parking for two or three hours and paying for someone to watch the shop and the ridiculous paperwork that requires a photocopy of landlord's drivers license, it has just become a waste of so many people's time," Geris said.
Going forward, the Studio City Neighborhood Council will issue a copy of signage rules passed in 1991 to any new business owners.