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Murals Take Another Step Toward Legalization

Councilman José Huizar will unveil the first draft of a new ordinance that would allow murals to be legally painted on private property for the first time in nearly a decade.

The self-proclaimed "Mural Capital of The World" is poised to take another step toward living up to its lofty title on Wednesday, as a draft ordinance that would once again legalize original art on private property is set to be released.

For nearly a decade,  the city of Los Angeles has legislated both murals and commercial signs through a single ordinance, which largely prohibited the painting of murals in the "Mural Capital of the World."

Tanner Blackman, of the department of city planning code studies section, explained that the city's 1986 sign ordinance exempted murals until a lawsuit brought by the outdoor advertising industry in the early 2000s prompted the city to eliminate the distinction between signs and public art.

In the 14 years that preceding the establishment of the city's sign ordinance, murals and signs were regulated separately, allowing public art projects to flourish along the walls of of private business in Los Angeles.

On Wednesday, local Councilman José Huizar (CD14)--who co-authored a motion to begin the mural legalization process--will release the first draft of an ordinance that will allow that art to begin flowing again.

The ordinance--which will be unveiled at 9 a.m. at Self Help Graphics and Art in the Boyle Heights Arts District--is influenced both by the City of Portland's recently approved mural ordinance as well as by feedback gathered by artists and community members at meetings hosted by Blackman.

The release of the draft ordinance triggers a 60 day public comment period, during which community members will be able to recommend changes to the document.

Dave Russell, an artist from the Mobil Mural Lab, told Blackman at November's meeting that the broad guidelines would need to fully vetted by the mural community before they were set in stone.

“I think each bullet point presents a lot of gray area which really needs to be discussed and have the input of the mural community,” he said.

Lori Fuller Rusch December 07, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Los Angeles is the wall mural capital of the world. We have literally thousands of examples of this type of public art dating back to the late 1920's. The art history department at Cal State LA has a on going research study documenting L.A.'s murals, from the distant and recent past, in every corner of the city. Preservationist continue to watch our lawmakers closely as they hold the fate of one of the quintessential elements of our City of Angeles in their hands.

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