A small group of Valley Village business owners waved protest signs on Saturday to help save their own outdoor signs.
Eight shops along a short strip of Magnolia Boulevard were cited by the city in February for having storefront signage without a permit. They were all given 30 days to stop by city hall and shell out $356 each for the proper paperwork.
But things could get much pricier and the business owners could end up losing their outdoor displays.
If a city inspector finds the signs to be out of compliance with size and other requirements in the municipal code, the store owners could be asked to purchase and install new signs altogether, said David Lara, a public information officer with the city's Department of Building and Safety.
Idrea Lippman owns resale boutique Lucky You, one of the cited stores, and is galvanizing her neighbors because she feels she is being bullied by the city.
She spent Saturday afternoon outside her shop making circles around the block with protest sign-bearing supporters.
Lippman said being asked to give up her 30-year-old sign for a smaller one.
"It's completely unfair," Lippman said, adding: "It's just wrong how they handled it, the city made a decision that they wanted more revenue."
But Lara said it was a single anonymous complaint prompted inspection of the property, how most compliance investigations begin.
Lippman said she's confident she'll be asked to put up new signs because an inspector already paid a visit to the property and gave his opinion that the xisting signage was in violation of size regulations.
Valley Village resident Sherry Brewer says the city should back off because signs for Lucky You and the Plost Office bring a certain charm to the neighborhood.
"It's been doing fine for many, many years, it's not hurting anybody and it makes Valley Village a quaint area," she said.
Janet Tashman owns the shopping center with her husband and recently got an extension from the city for the permitting.
Tashman said she's already been quoted between $25,000 and $35,000 for taking down all the signs and putting up new framework.
She said would likely pay for a brunt of the costs because shop owners like Lippman are not making a fortune.
"We have to weigh in the balance, do we want to have empty stores that are difficult to rent to people?" She said.
The actual signs themselves may cost between $500 and $1,000, Lippman said.
Through her efforts, she's already won some sympathy from key city hall insiders.
Lippman said she met with L.A. City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who's started exploring a new program to give business owners a heads up before being issued an order to comply.
In an e-mail, Communications Director Jeremy Oberstein wrote: "[The councilman] has directed the Dept. of Building and Safety to alert shopkeepers about possible infractions before they snowball into major fines and will continue working with business owners and others to ensure everyone is well aware of the regulations in place."
But Lippman said more protests could be on the way until city hall leaves her business alone.
"The Department of Building and Safety is going to get real tired of hearing from me," Lippman said. "I'm not going to stop."