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Mural Ordinance Stumbles Forward

The elusive mural ordinance moved a few inches forward this week.

The Citywide Proposed Zoning Code Amendment, which would allow murals to be legally produced on private property in the city of Los Angeles, was approved by the City Planning Commission on Thursday.

City officials have been as eager as muralists to get this ordinance passed, and the committee determined it can be adapted further as it goes through the final approval process.

This sends the ordinance, which carries the case number CPC-2008-2142-CA, on its way through City Hall. It will go to Planning and Land Use (PLUM) commission, then, if passed, onward to City Council for approval. No dates have been set.

Topics that delayed the ordinance from moving forward in July are still subject to negotiation, and may change. This includes provisions allowing owners or managers of residences with less than two units to commission works, or recognizing new methods such as works digitally produced, rather than painted. The latter point is bound to be debated for years, even if, or when, the ordinance is passed by City Council.

After public comment at the hearing, the committee discussed that it will remain a city-wide ordinance by not completely disallowing any style of mural -- knowing that some works will be more welcomed in a certain neighborhood than another. Since site-specific community-based works would need the ordinance, this makes it easier for residents to work with artists to "custom-craft" site-specific works, said members of the committee.

"In my estimation, from a cultural, artistic and historic perspective, the mural ordinance is among the most important pieces of land use legislation this body has ever had the duty and responsibility of considering," said Councilmember José Huizar in correspondence to the Planning Commission before the Thursday hearing.

It's likely that the ordinance will go through -- it's highly improbable that it will not be approved by PLUM and City Council. Now it's just about the details.

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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