Legalizing Murals to be Discussed at L.A. City Hearing on Wednesday

Building an Empire I Photo: L.A. Freewalls Project

Muralists and art administrators are being invited to speak their mind, and stake their claim, in the ongoing overhaul of ordinances that block production of murals at a meeting on Wednesday.

A joint City Council committee will be updated on a proposed mural ordinance culled from the early survey by the Departments of Cultural Affairs and City Planning, according to Tanner Blackman, who has been seeking ways to overhaul existing rules on sign that have blocked fine art mural production from being installed on private property in the City of Los Angeles.

The floor will then be open to public comment, and call for action from artists is expected.

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The 3:00 p.m. meeting will begin with reports from Cultural Affairs and City Planning to introduce possible avenues for mural permitting, Pat Gomez, Arts Manager of Cultural Affairs, said in an e-mail. "There will be also be opportunity for public comment prior to the Council Committees' instructions to the various City Departments on the next steps."

The much-anticipated meeting to get murals back on track is expected to draw interest, and comments may be limited to two minutes.

With murals being an ongoing topic for several years, Blackman anticipates he will receive official instructions to prepare an ordinance.

It is a formal first step in a legislative process, said Blackman, who noted the procedural step is necessary and will lead to workshops that will "draft ordinance language and release a draft ordinance."

The assignment is not just finding ways for murals to be produced, but lead to an ordinance that is enforceable and able to withstand challenges in court.

Blackman led a group made of city and non-profit cultural leaders, plus artists and curators, who first met in July to begin the unraveling of ordinances that have halted "community enhancing" mural production.

"This is a big step forward," Blackman said. "I believe the recent visible and vocal efforts of members of this working group have been instrumental in awakening the council offices to the need to schedule this meeting sooner than later."

Also credited for raising awareness is Saber's skywriting protest in September. The graffiti artist is expected to have his 'End Mural Moratorium: Art Is Not A Crime" petition presented that gathered 5,770 online signatures thus far.

While the City already began the process to find ways to change ordinances that would enable murals to be produced, the visibility of the popular street artist tag in the sky opened the discussion to a larger audience.

Working the crowd on the ground is Blackman himself, who had led community outreach to field opinions at events like Estria Graffiti Battle at CreWest, street art panel discussions at museums, and during openings at art galleries. Council-backed meetings and workshops in mural heavy districts are being planned.

The Wednesday October, 12 meeting will be held in City Hall, Room 350 at 3:00 p.m. Public comment will begin at 3:30 p.m.

Departures has extensively covered the ongoing mural policy debate in Los Angeles. Catch up here:

About the Author

Ed Fuentes is an arts journalist, photographer, graphic designer, and digital muralist who covers a variety of topics and geographies in Southern California for KCET.
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Is this another way to let those caught doing graffiti off without jail time?