L.A. Council Votes to End Ban On Some Private Property Murals

Restriction on single-family homes will stay.

By Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou, City News Service

Murals will once again be allowed on private property in Los Angeles, with the City Council voting Wednesday to lift a decade-long prohibition on paintings displayed on privately owned buildings.

The council tentatively approved the ordinance last week, but Wednesday’s 13-2 vote — with council members Bernard Parks and Bob Blumenfield dissenting — finalized the measure and sends it to Mayor Eric Garcetti for his signature.

“The city of Los Angeles was known as a place where we supported the arts, where we had free expression on our walls,” Councilman Jose Huizar said last week in urging his colleagues to lift the ban.

The Eastside councilman said he represents communities that have long embraced mural art. Those murals, often depicting cultural and historical figures not taught in schools, gave him an informal education growing up, he said.

Huizar, who is 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 ban was originally put in place amid litigation over commercial advertising.

The measure still restricts murals on single-family residences, reflecting a compromise between muralists who urged a universal lifting of the moratorium and others who were concerned that objectionable content would be displayed without their approval on a neighbor’s wall.

The ordinance also establishes a process for registering new murals, sets fees starting at $60 per mural and imposes restrictions on the size and location of the artwork. It also restricts flashing or changing lights and other moving images on murals.

Council members will continue to meet in committee in the coming weeks and months to refine mural regulations in the city, including crafting a process for communities to “opt-in” to allow murals on single-family homes.

Huizar has authored a motion asking staff to look into a pilot program that would exempt his own 14th District and the First District, represented by Councilman Gil Cedillo, from the restriction on single-family home murals.

Hollywood-area Councilman Mitch O’Farrell also introduced a motion that would require anti-graffiti coating on all murals to make it easier to wash away defacement or vandalism of artists’ works.

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.

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September 5, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


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