Workshop & Testimony Solicited for Mural Ordinance, 1/10

Mon, 01/09/2012 (All day)
Advocacy Team (if applicable): 

Los Angeles Department of City Planning logoThe Los Angeles Department of City Planning is hosting a workshop and public hearing of the draft mural ordinance this Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 at 1:00pm at Los Angeles City Hall.  The city is soliciting testimony from affected and/or interested persons regarding this project.  The last day to submit comments that will be entered into the official record is Wednesday, February 8, 2012.

The attached PDF contains additional information about the workshop, how to submit testimony, a comprehensive Question & Answer section about the ordinance, and the full text of the discussion draft.  The text of the Q&A section follows this article.

From the Department of City Planning: A proposed ordinance adding Article 4.1 to and amending Sections 14.4.2, 14.4.4, 14.4.20, and 19.01 of Chapter I of the Los Angeles Municipal Code to allow for the creation of original art murals on private property through a time/place/manner administrative permit; preserve existing vintage art murals; and make minor technical corrections. The purpose of the hearing [on January 10th] is to obtain testimony from affected and/or interested persons regarding this project. First, planning staff will present on the proposed project and take questions. Then, the hearing will be conducted by a Hearing Officer who will consider all the testimony presented at that time and any written communication received prior to or at the hearing from affected and/or interested persons regarding this Project, as well as the merits of the proposed ordinance as it relates to existing environmental and land use regulations. The environmental document will be among the matters considered at the hearing. After the hearing, Code Studies staff will prepare a report, including a final recommendation, which will be considered by the City Planning Commission at a later date.

Q&A regarding the ordinances from the Department of City Planning:

Q: What is the Mural Ordinance?
A: On October 19, 2011, after several committee meetings, the LA City Council instructed the Department of City Planning (DCP) to prepare an ordinance to create a “time/place/manner” “administrative permit” system to allow for the creation of new fine art murals throughout the City as well as a “vintage mural permit” to protect and preserve the City’s existing fine art murals. The attached discussion draft of a new Mural Ordinance presents a blueprint to allow murals on private property in the City of LA. DCP helps guide the development of private property throughout the City through implementation of the General Plan and the Zoning Code, including regulation of signage and, in specific districts, aesthetics. DCP has worked closely with the Departments of Cultural Affairs and Building & Safety, as well as the City Attorney’s Office and numerous Council Offices to prepare this discussion draft.

Q: Why do we need a Mural Ordinance?
A: Since 2002, new murals have been generally banned in the City of Los Angeles and only allowed in specified areas. But, the problem goes back to the current definition of murals, written in 1986, which defines murals as a type of sign. This definition was created to exempt fine art murals from new sign regulations. However, the exemption was challenged legally. In response, the City Council placed “mural signs” under the same general ban as outdoor advertising, with exceptions for specific plans, sign districts, and development agreements. Over the years, the 2002 ordinance has proven very limiting to the creation of new murals in the City of LA.

Q: What is a discussion draft? How can I be heard?
A: The draft Mural Ordinance is not the final Planning Department recommendation. This is a discussion draft to solicit input from the public. DCP staff will conduct a Workshop & Public Hearing in City Hall on January 10, 2012, and will accept written comments until February 8, 2012. After the comment period, staff will revise the draft based on feedback received and present a recommended ordinance and report to the Cultural Affairs Commission and the City Planning Commission, hopefully in March 2012. At these Commission meetings and at future City Council Committee meetings, you will have the opportunity to speak directly to the decision-makers during public testimony.

Q: What does the draft ordinance do?
A: The Mural Ordinance discussion draft presents an administrative permitting approach to allow the creation of new murals on private property through time/place/manner regulations. Through an “administrative permit” process, murals would be allowed if they meet the minimum requirements of the ordinance and procedures of the Administrative Rules.

Q: What are Administrative Rules?
A: Not everything needs to go into the ordinance. For example, specifics like the Original Art Mural application form, acceptable verification of the age of a Vintage Art Mural, and procedures for review by the Office of Historic Resources will be included in the Administrative Rules. DCP staff will continue to workshop these particulars with the public in outreach during the comment period. Recommended Administrative Rules will be included in the final staff report.

Q: What are the next steps?
A: Please review the draft ordinance language, attend a Mural Ordinance Update outreach event (for info please go to, and submit comments to Tanner Blackman at Anyone submitting comments will be added to the Mural Ordinance email list to receive notification of future staff reports and public hearings.

Q: What are the contents of the Mural Ordinance discussion draft?
A: The discussion draft adds one new Article to the Zoning Code; deletes two small section and edits one section of the Sign Code; and edits one of the Planning & Zoning Fees.

Section 5, Filing Fees

I see no reason whatever that either an artist and/or community organization (501 c-3) and/or small community business should have to pay the City of Los Angeles for "permission" to create a mural to beautify this beauty-challenged city.


I take great objection to the filing fees listed in this section, presumking they are intended to be part of the final agreement.


Having to waste $200 or more for filing to get a mural created will continue to place an unfair burden on LA community members (Both artists, potential arts patrons, and neighborhoods) in areas where access to beautification and decoration are historically limited.


And to what use does the City propose to put the $199, $647, and $745 it demands to extract through this process for the right of people to express themselves?


This part of the mural ordinance will have a further deterrent effect on the ability of artists to help beautify their communities, and on the part of eceonomically-challenged communities to beautify their environments.



J Michael Walker