Man under fire over 'Dragon' billboard

Agrees to remove unpermitted sign for DWA film in Hollywood

A Los Angeles businessman who was arrested for investigation of draping a building with a massive billboard for DreamWorks Animation's "How to Train Your Dragon" near the site of Sunday night's Oscars agreed to remove the sign Monday in exchange for a drastic reduction of his bail.

Authorities said Kayvan Setareh arranged for the ad for the March 26 release to be hung on a Hollywood Boulevard building he owns near the Kodak Theatre.

Setareh was accused of posting the unpermitted sign despite repeated warnings that it would violate city safety codes and the ban passed last year by the City Council on "supergraphics."

"This was an individual who was warned and had every opportunity to comply with the law and did not," Senior Assistant City Attorney Chuck Goldenberg said.

DreamWorks Animation referred questions to Paramount, which is handling marketing for "How to Train Your Dragon." Paramount said in a statement that it had been assured that the site had all appropriate permits.

A spokeswoman did not respond to an e-mail seeking details about the advertising contract and asking whether the sign was supposed to have remained through the Oscarcast, where it could have been visible to TV cameras covering the red carpet.

Superior Court Judge Mildred Escobedo accepted the deal between Setareh's lawyers and the city attorney's office, which dropped his bail from $1 million to $100,000 after Setareh agreed to have a crew begin removing the eight-story ad by Monday night.

Setareh's deal with prosecutors stipulates that he must have the sign removed by 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Setareh is the first person to face criminal charges under a new citywide ban on enormous building-cloaking ads known as supergraphics, part of what authorities called a new strategy of vigorous sign-law enforcement by the city attorney's office.

His arrest came less than a week after the office filed its first civil complaint under the ban, against a business accused of installing supergraphic signs at 12 Los Angeles locations.

Satareh's attorney Andrew Stein said he did not believe the sign was a safety hazard, as prosecutors alleged. He said the city had aggressively gone after his client as a warning to other would-be supergraphic scofflaws.

"He feels like he's the unlucky guy who put up the wrong sign at the wrong time," Stein said after the hearing. Setareh is due back in court March 30.

Stein said he has seen no evidence that his client had received a warning. He assailed Escobedo for approving the $1 million bail that prosecutors requested when Setareh was arrested Friday on suspicion of three misdemeanor city code violations.

Endorsing a bail amount usually reserved for more serious offenses such as rape and kidnapping is the "most outrageous abuse of discretion that I've seen by any judicial officer exercise," he said.