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Los Angeles ban on public murals close to being lifted

Advertising murals in Los Angeles spurred the ban of murals in Los Angeles a decade ago
Advertising murals in Los Angeles spurred the ban of murals in Los Angeles a decade ago
photos copyright 2013 lori j. bjork

According to a Los Angeles Times August 28, 2013 article by Catherine Saillant, the Los Angeles (L.A.) City Council, that same date, voted 13-2 to lift a decade-long ban on public murals. The ban lift has one final hurdle, an additional vote next week to approve the plan.

While many sources have been lauding the August 28th vote as the actual lifting of the ban, the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA) continues to report that they will not be uncorking the bubbly unless and until next week's vote finds the mural ordinance finally approved.

Part of the hard sell for the final approval is the ongoing controversy over what is art, what is advertising and what is graffiti. It was advertisers unhappiness with not being allowed to have murals while artists were which led to the mural ban a decade ago.

If you are wondering about the definition of mural, according to the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary a mural is

"applied to and made integral with a wall or ceiling surface."

In a way, not much help. There are those who would continue to debate and defend that advertising and graffiti could be considered art in the broadest sense of the concept.

Should the ban be lifted it looks as though a mural will not simply be legal by placing it on a building. A permit will need to be registered by the artist, along with a $60 application fee. The mural will not be approved if it has a commercial message. The mural is expected to remain visible for at least two years.

According to the L.A. Times article mentioned above,

"Only residential areas that 'opt in' to the mural program by petitioning the city would be permitted to have the artworks on walls and homes. Councilman Jose Huizar, who sponsored the law, favored a different version that would have required single-family neighborhoods to 'opt out' or allow murals everywhere--including single-family homes--unless communities organize to ban them."

Isabel Rojas-Williams, executive director of the MCLA, the lift of the ban is also an effort for L.A. to

"reclaim our legacy as a mural capital of the world."

While "mural capital of the world" may be a bit bold, the formed in 1987 MCLA's efforts have made their organization and web-presence a rich resource for those interested in L.A. murals.