RESCHEDULED: LA City Council to Pass Mural Ordinance

Thu, 08/22/2013 - 10:04am
Advocacy Team (if applicable): 

Photo: mural

Update 8/22: The City Council has again tentatively rescheduled the discussion and vote of the mural ordinance for Wednesday, August 28. Check the agenda on the City Council calendar for more information.

Update 8/19: We've just learned City Council has tentatively rescheduled the discussion and vote of the mural ordinance for Friday, August 23.  Check the agenda on the City Council calendar for more information.

The Los Angeles City Council is set to approve a new mural ordinance at its regular meeting on August 20 at 10 a.m.

After years of development and many months of rigorous community and council debate, two versions of a mural ordinance have reached the full City Council for consideration.  Version A includes an overlay to allow murals on private, single-family homes, while Version B would prohibit such murals.  As discussion of the full ordinance's finer points waged on, the single-family home issue emerged as the most contentious, dividing the city's advocates.  Vocal opponents of Version A include many neighborhood councils and homeowner association-style groups who worry about the opportunity for residents to place art of objectionable content within single-family neighborhoods, while that version is favored by many arts organizations and muralists, who believe the issue comes down to free speech and personal responsibility.

Blogger Ed Fuentes, who covers many arts-related issues in LA in his blog A View from a Loft, makes reference to a group letter sent by a coalition of community and arts groups in favor of action on the mural ordinance.  Authors of the letter wrote, "For those council districts that want a mural free zone, we believe an overlay zone would be appropriate. The majority of communities that have supported murals in their districts for decades should not be penalized for those few districts that oppose murals.   The mural ordinance has been held in PLUM with a last minute lobby from neighborhood councils in districts that have no mural tradition, a response more to street art than the ethnic neighborhood murals that gave Los Angeles its mural tradition."

The Council's task now seems to determine how to produce the best compromise to serve our artistic community, our neighborhoods, and the city's overall commitment to murals and public art.  

Arts for LA, like many other arts groups, supports swift action to resolve the mural ordinance conversation.  "Murals have been an essential part of Los Angeles's artistic identity for over one hundred years," said Executive Director Danielle Brazell.  "We have murals languishing wi

thout restoration support, murals facing uncertain futures because they aren't protected by any law right now.  A 'wait-and-see' philosophy doesn't work anymore.  While the city has well-founded reservations about advertisers co-opting mural-like productions to circumvent other city ordinances, maintaining the mural ban really only hurts our neighborhoods and residents for whom murals are a treasured form of expression and community cohesion."

Arts for LA encourages all Los Angeles residents who feel passionately about this issue to show up for tomorrow's city council meeting to participate in being part of the solution to this issue.  We encourage you to arrive early in order to ensure you have a seat in the John Ferraro Council Chambers in City Hall.  The mural ordinance is currently placed first on the council's agenda.

Photo: "Los Angeles" by Scott Beale, on Flickr