New law would eliminate L.A.’s ban on murals

08/30/2013 4:44 pm0 commentsViews: 90
Mariachi Plaza Mrual Photo By Gary McCarthy

Mariachi Plaza Mrual
Photo By Gary McCarthy

 

By ELIZABETH HSING-HUEI CHOU

City News Service

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,” said Councilman

Hollywood Roosevelt Photo by Gary McCarthy

Hollywood Roosevelt
Photo by Gary McCarthy

 

Chris Brown House mural Photo by Gary McCarthy

Chris Brown House mural
Photo by Gary McCarthy

, 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 Wednesday 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.

 

 

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