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Public Hearing on Final Mural Ordinance To Be Held July 12

Public hearings for a new mural ordinance for the City of Los Angeles will be held July 12, according to a recommendation report about to be released.

Department of City Planning will begin the long-awaited process of passing through a final mural ordinance. It defines outdoor works that have been discussed, hashed over, protested, testified, debated, as "Original Art Murals."

It marks the final steps to put definitions of Original Art Mural on the books, replacing the old definition of a "mural sign," plus add new definition of "Public Art Installation" so public art will not overlap with City of Los Angeles regulations on commercial signage.

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As reported here, the administration for permits for Original Art Murals on private property will be handled by Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), who will be given a set of guidelines that are "clear and consistent procedures" for new and existing murals on private property on city limits.

With fees set on a scale topping at $100, the ordinance requirements for Original Art Mural include that they shall not be altered, not exceed the height of the structure or 100 feet, not extend more than six inches from the building façade, and remain intact for a minimum of two years.

The summery states the proposed ordinance become an opportunity for art to "contribute to livable, aesthetically pleasing and pedestrian friendly streetscapes" and free departments from the costs of enforcing what became a ban on murals.

Since 2002, City ordinances made it illegal to create murals on private property, a set of guidelines that left artists confused. Property owned by LAUSD, the County of Los Angeles, METRO, and by the city itself was not banned from works. A large portfolio of murals have been painted over since that time, affecting artists and property owners who commissioned the works. Swifter resolution was delayed with ongoing litigation, in particular, with media companies.

It's not a new debate. Kim Wardlaw, the 9th Circuit judge who made the 2010 ruling that allowed the City to move forward on drafting a mural ordinance, commented that the earliest ruling allowing a city to keep the right to regulate billboard advertising was by the Missouri Supreme Court in 1911, as also noted by banbillboardblight.

Over 100 years later, this city is just stepping out from similar ligation, and finally able to have the last set of hearings that will support an enforcement code that will protect murals from being confused with a commericial signs.

Department of City Planning Recommendation Report will be held July 12, 2012, at City Hall in Room 350 in a meeting with an 8:30 a.m. starting time.

[Updated 3 p.m.: Tanner Blackman texts in to confirm the mural permit fee will top at $100.]

Click here to take a look at the draft ordinance.

For more stories on the mural ordinance, click 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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