'Liberty' in question on hillside

Much like the Hollywood sign, the large white letters tower on a hillside. Unlike the iconic landmark nearly 11 miles away, this new sign on a squat hill near the Glendale (2) Freeway doesn't evoke glitz and glam. It poses a question — a socio-political one — to commuters.


Ironically, a sign eliciting doubt about one's independence from authority has gotten the owner of the site in trouble with government officials.

Although the sign, which has been up for at least two weeks, overlooks the interchange between the northbound so-called Glendale Freeway and the westbound Ventura (134) Freeway, the hill abutting the interchange is within the city of Los Angeles.

The owner of the hill — P.A.R. Mt. Carmel LLC — is set to receive a $356 bill from L.A. because the sign was erected without a permit, said Luke Zamperini, spokesman for the city of Los Angeles' Department of Building & Safety. The fee will be coupled with an "order to comply" with the city's zoning code.

"We don't regulate the content of our signs, just the sign structure," Zamperini said, adding that all pole signs need permits.

Marianna Demirchian, a co-owner of the property, was shocked when she heard about the sign.

"I've never seen it. That's crazy," she said, noting that she had no further comment.

Zamperini said this isn't the first time an unpermitted sign had been erected on Mt. Carmel's property. A year ago, a real estate sign loomed on the hill over freeway drivers.

The "LIBERTY?" sign sparked buzz at Glendale City Hall, with some officials wondering if it was the work of a Los Angeles artist who had installed life-size cutouts of actors from spaghetti westerns on hills overlooking Glendale.

The artist, Justin Stadel, was also behind a more direct Hollywood-sign look-alike that reads "GLASSELLAND, " which can be seen driving southbound on the 2 Freeway near the York Boulevard exit.

But Stadel, who is in the process of donating a new statue of a young Clint Eastwood dressed as a cowboy to the city of Glendale, said he wasn't behind the "LIBERTY?" insignia.

"I don't know who did that one," Stadel said. "I haven't done anything that overtly political."


Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.


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