Artists can legally paint murals on the sides of stores, offices, apartment duplexes and other privately owned properties under a new Los Angeles law tentatively approved Wednesday. Murals will still be banned, however, on single-family homes.
The City Council voted 13-2 to create a mural ordinance, one that loosens restrictions that had been in place governing the large-scale artwork. Under the law, murals will be allowed on private property for the first time in a decade.
“There are so many benefits with having murals in our communities,” said City Councilman Jose Huizar, who led efforts to overhaul the ordinance and cited the historical and social aspect of the art pieces.
The mural ordinance gained attention in recent weeks after officials had moved to allow murals on single-family homes. Numerous neighborhood groups, worried about diminished property values, contested the action.
Opponents also pointed to rapper Chris Brown, who earlier this summer painted a mural of monster characters on the side of his Hollywood Hills home, prompting complaints from neighbors and a city citation.
Facing pressure, the City Council voted Wednesday to uphold the ban on murals on single-family homes. As a concession to supporters of the proposal, the city will study ways neighborhood groups can “opt in” to allow the murals on homes in their respective communities.
The ordinance will return next week for a final vote, though its tentative passage marks a victory for artists. Since 2002, L.A. has banned murals from all private property as part of a citywide crackdown on commercial advertising.
Artist Juri Koll, who attended Wednesday's hearing, sees the murals in his Venice neighborhood as cultural touchstones. The new ordinance, he said, “will allow residents to beautify our city.”
But Los Angeles' hodgepodge of single-family and commercial properties prompted City Councilman Bob Blumenfield to vote against the ordinance.
A giant mural could rise on an apartment complex across the street from a single-family residence under the law, said Blumenfield, who believes more regulation is needed.
“What I wanted was a mechanism where neighbors would have some say in whether a mural goes up across the street,” Blumenfield said. “There is not enough control by the community.”