By David Diaz
The October Central City Planning Commission meeting resulted in a series of substantial changes from the horrible Mural Ordinance Proposal submitted by the City Planning Department at the August meeting. The vast majority of revisions demanded by UPPA and the citywide artist alliance were in acted. The major changes constitute a important victory for the artistic community in Los Angeles.
Key changes included incorporating a category for Vintage Murals, a reduction in fees to a $60 flat rate, changes in how the permit procedures will be in acted through the Cultural Affairs Dept., a reduction in the number of units on a property from five to two (more on this issue), addressing height limit considerations, and a other changes demanded by artists at the August public hearing.
What was presented was a resounding affirmation of the original Draft Mural Ordinance text presented before the Cultural Affairs Commission last spring. The citywide artist alliance should realize how important and effective their public testimony and strong lobbying efforts had on the significant changes that the City Planning Dept. incorporated into the revised Mural Ordinance text.
The vinyl controversy remained unresolved, although the City Planning Commission left this in the proposed ordinance text. What is crystal clear is that vinyl is environmentally degrading to the environment and will require additional city oversight. The Planning Commissioners, the City Planning Dept., the City Attorney and Cultural Affairs all concurred that vinyl is toxic and problematic. Conversely they refused to deal with this issue is a specific manner at the hearing. They essentially pushed the decision on this issue to the city council. It is essential that artists and UPPA remain vigilant and united in this specific issue.
Another problematic issue is the ability of an owner to decertify a mural, and apparently buff it, within a relatively short timeframe. This has to change, and the Mural Ordinance has to incorporate long term protections for public art.
Other key issues that need to be articulated are the 100 ft height limit, timeframe for the approval process by Cultural Affairs, waiving any fees for murals that are painted at school sites, utilizing community members, and/or for urban revitalization projects in neighborhoods.
The sole reason why the entire requirement of five units per property was not deleted is that the Chair of the Planning Commission refused to completely surrender to the UPPA, and citywide artist coalition. He just refused to go that far, because there is scant difference between one vs. two units. The city council will most likely rectify this gross mistake.