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Murals Win Tentative City Council OK

UPDATE: The measure, which still must come back for final council approval, was approved on a 13-2 vote, with Paul Koretz and Bob Blumenfield dissenting.

A woman looks back while pushing her stroller past a giant mural of Mt. Rushmore by Brazilian streetartist Eduardo Kobra on La Brea Avenue. (CREDIT: AFP / Getty)
A woman looks back while pushing her stroller past a giant mural of Mt. Rushmore by Brazilian streetartist Eduardo Kobra on La Brea Avenue. (CREDIT: AFP / Getty)

Update:  The Los Angeles City Council tentatively approved an ordinance Wednesday that would lift a decade-long prohibition on murals adorning privately owned buildings, a move that one council member said would restore the city's reputation as the "mural capital of the world."

The measure, which still must come back for final council approval, was approved on a 13-2 vote, with Paul Koretz and Bob Blumenfield dissenting.

The only sticking point in the ordinance was whether to allow murals on single-family homes. The ordinance given tentative approval would not allow murals on homes, but the council asked its staff to report back on a possible "opt-in" process for specific communities to allow them on single-family residences.

"The city of Los Angeles was known as a place where we supported the arts, where we had free expression on our walls," according to Councilman Jose Huizar, who said he represents Eastside communities that have long embraced mural art.

The murals, often depicting images of cultural and historical figures not taught in schools, gave him an informal education growing up, he said.

Since the ban, which was put in place amid litigation over commercial advertising, city officials have been "grappling" with a way to bring murals back to the city, with efforts to reverse the ban dragging on for a decade, Huizar said.

"We said no to our artists for the last decade, and I truly think it's time to say yes," he said.

Huizar noted that relatively few murals -- about 2 to 3 percent of those in the city -- are painted on single-family homes.

Koretz, who represents a Westside district that includes Bel Air, said he opposed the ordinance because he "got no calls (from constituents) wanting the murals in their community."

Some critics of lifting the ban have raised concerns about people painting objectionable or offensive imagery, including hate speech and swastikas. But council members heard today from a string of artists and well- known figures in the mural art world who implored the council to lift the ban.

Mural Conservancy Executive Isabel Rojas-Williams, flanked by "legendary mural artist" Kent Twitchell and the niece of celebrated Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, told the council "the mural community stands united before you to ask that you put an end to the dark ages of muralism in Los Angeles."

The conservancy participates in a variety of public mural restoration projects, including restoration of several iconic freeway murals that were commissioned by former Mayor Tom Bradley for the 1984 Summer Olympics.

One muralist, in beseeching the council to approve the mural ordinance, said, "I'm ready to paint. I would love it if you would pass it."

Huizar, chairman of the council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee, said lifting the ban would re-establish Los Angeles as the "mural capital of the world."

The mural issue made some headlines earlier this year when singer Chris Brown was cited for having cartoonish fanged monsters painted on his Hollywood Hills home. The 8-foot-tall mural, which prompted some complaints from neighbors, was eventually painted over.

-- City News Service


Earlier story: The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday tentatively agreed to lift a decade-long prohibition on murals adorning privately owned buildings in the city.

The measure, which still must come back for final council approval, would restrict murals on single-family residences, but the council requested a report on methods for allowing communities to "opt-in" and allow murals on homes.

The ordinance defines murals as non-commercial works of art, distinguishing them from signs and advertisements for goods and services, which are subject to different rules.

City attorneys presented the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee last month with two versions of the ordinance -- one that would allow and one that would prohibit murals on single-family homes.

The committee, however, could not come up with any recommendations on the issue.

Division over the issue led to the consideration of the so-called "opt- in" process for individual neighborhoods.

Councilman Jose Huizar, who chairs the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, said the final ordinance would help restore Los Angeles' reputation as the "mural capital of the world."

-- City News Service

C Molina August 28, 2013 at 04:38 PM
I guess Huizar is rallying for the gang bange to tag up the 'hoods. Another leftover from Tony Villar's reign of terror.

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