Despicable: City of L.A. Fines Businesses for Hanging "Open for Business" Signs

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
AP featured image
In this photo made on Saturday, March 1, 2014, the back of the “open” sign hangs in the window at Bobtown Pizza in Bobtown, Pa. The little pizza shop in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania was placed in the spotlight when energy giant Chevron offered coupons for free pizza from their shop to people who live near the area where a natural gas well that exploded, killing one worker on Feb 11, 2014. Some news stories and internet opinion posts have been critical about the offer by Chevron Corp., but many residents of the town said they didn’t mind the pizza offer. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Here is a list of things you can currently do in the city of Los Angeles with impunity:

  • defy pandemic stay-at-home orders to protest in crowded streets by the tens of thousands
  • throw Molotov cocktails at police
  • break the windows of both private and public property
  • burn down neighborhood businesses
  • tear down monuments on public property
  • drag innocent commuters from their cars, beat them mercilessly, and destroy their vehicles
  • poop in public streets
  • openly use illegal drugs on public streets
  • steal cars or bicycles
  • erect tent cities on private property
  • steal up to $950 of merchandise per day without fear of prosecution…under state law

It’s a great time to be a criminal in the City of Angels, but if you’re a business owner, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti will find you and make sure you are fined and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for…

Are you ready for this?

Hanging a “We are open” sign in front of your business.

NBC4 in Los Angeles is reporting that an increasing number of businesses have received hefty citations and fines from the City of Los Angeles for supposedly violating permit laws by hanging banners on their businesses to help customers see that they are open through the pandemic.

Above the entrance of the Crave Cafe in Studio City–where business is down 70% during the pandemic–the owner last month hung a banner that says “OPEN FOR TAKE-OUT AND DELIVERY.”

“It really was important because it helped us in communicating to the community that we were still open, and many of them don’t know that,” said Rana Shalhoub, Crave Cafe’s owner.


But Shalhoub found a notice in her mail this week from LA’s Department of Building and Safety, ordering her to take down the banner and fining her $356. She promptly removed the banner.

“We’re struggling to survive. I do think the city should have at least given us a warning to take down the sign, prior to fining us,” Rana Shalhoub told NBC4.

Several neighboring businesses on Ventura Boulevard also got $356 fines for hanging banners saying they’re still open, including the Chop Shop salad restaurant, Fantastic Sam’s barbershop, Trader Joe’s and the Hot Chicken and Waffle Bar.

The Department of Building and Safety told the I-Team in an email that the banners “require permits,” and because the businesses didn’t have those permits, they were in violation of the LA Municipal Code and received the fines.

NBC4’s investigative team followed up with the Mayor’s office to inquire as to why the city would be choosing to enforce petty permitting laws at a time when businesses are desperately trying to stay afloat and retain their customer bases. Garcetti’s reply seems to indicate he wasn’t aware the fines were still being levied.

“I’m happy to follow up with you about that particular case,” said Garcetti. “It’s always my instinct to give businesses, especially now, to give businesses breaks.”

Crave Cafe’s owner Rana Shalhoub has a message for city leaders: “We are all in this together and in a pandemic we need to be more compassionate.  And to target small business owners and even large business owners during something like this is very unfair.”

So far, the Department of Building and Safety is telling Crave Cafe  and other businesses they must pay the $356 fine within 30 days, or the fine will increase to $1,176.

There is no doubt that COVID is a serious virus but the governmental response has been so utterly unserious and unfair that it is no wonder people feel driven to extremes in response to the virus. While the lawless continue to live their lives as they please, the taxpayers and business owners on California and America continue to bear the brunt of closures and blame.

It’s enough to make one just head to the ballot box in November and vote for another revolution a la 2016.



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