The District is suing a company that builds large LED signs in the city, saying the signs were constructed illegally and are a danger to the public.
The lawsuit, filed in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday against Digi Media Communications and the owners of buildings where the signs were erected, says the signs “tower over and above pedestrians, causing substantial and significant risk to public safety.”
The suit also said that the signs were not approved by the District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and that they were constructed despite stop-work orders.
“Many of these sign locations are in the downtown core and in areas near metro stations and other high-traffic pedestrian areas,” the complaint read. “. . . Thousands of people pass underneath or alongside defendants’ LED signs — which are not permitted or inspected by DCRA — causing a significant risk of death or injury if one of these massive signs were to fall on a passerby.”
The suit identified eight locations in the District where the signs or brackets for the signs were allegedly constructed without proper permits. Permission to put up brackets was granted for the inside of the buildings, but the brackets went up on the outside of the buildings, the suit said.
The suit also claimed Digi Media “seeks to illegally blanket the city with 52 large-scale LED screens.”
“The District has enacted building and sign regulations for reasons that include protecting the safety of our residents and preserving the aesthetic nature of our city,” D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine said in a statement. “The Office of the Attorney General believes Digi Media has unlawfully installed these signs, and we are taking action to enforce the law.”
In a statement, Digi Media said the signs were not a danger.
“Digi Media complied fully with all applicable permitting regulations as those regulations have been consistently applied for years, and which have been used by others to erect numerous signs around the city in locations analogous to Digi’s,” an emailed statement from a Digi Media spokesman said. “All construction work related to the brackets for Digi’s signs was fully permitted with DCRA. Digi’s installations are carefully engineered and have never been the subject of any injury or accident anywhere.”
As of Friday, a sign in at least one location named in the lawsuit had been removed.
The sign controversy comes after billboard-size digital signs were approved for Verizon Center in 2013, despite residents’ two-year battle against them.