Emily Winters on Murals

By Emily Winters

A vote whether or not to accept the incomplete mural ordinance came to question before the Venice Neighborhood Council at its last board meeting Dec. 18, 2012. There were four people from the community who spoke against the vote at this time as the ordinance has not been perfected for a final vote. No one spoke for the ordinance. This mural ordinance is going back to Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) for further revisions before it goes to a final vote from the LA City Council. There were people who spoke at the VNC meeting who have been working for several years with the LA City Wide Mural Ordinance Working Group to develop this ordinance to separate the rules for fine art murals from advertising signs. Advertising signs have over-run the mural rules confusing many issues to the point that caused a moratorium on no new murals since 2002. We have worked hard to finalize this ordinance, but there are a few main issues that are unresolved. The VNC was urged to vote down this ordinance until there is a final version, or vote for it excluding the issues of controversy, or table it until a final document is ready to be accepted or rejected. There was no one who spoke in favor of voting for the present status of the ordinance. The VNC chose to vote for this unfinished ordinance without examining the issues, basically making an uninformed vote! I am astounded at their short sightedness!

This kind of disregard of the knowledgeable members of the community who come forward before the board and then just plow ahead with thoughtless uninformed voting, destroys the credibility of the VNC. Kudos to Slyvia Aroth who voted against accepting the ordinance and Ira Koslow who abstained. I voted for Ira for a seat on the VNC for the very reason that he is able to objectively evaluate the issues that arise during the meeting, and can think out side the box.

The LA Mural Ordinance is still in process with PLUM and there is another hearing in January. There are 10 issues that need to be resolved with PLUM before it goes to a final vote from the LA City Council.

The ten recommendations are:

  1. Remove prohibition of murals on single family homes.
  2. Remove the 100 foot height restriction on murals.
  3. Omit the allowance of mural de-registration by property owners.
  4. Abide by global standards of mural conservation & restoration.
  5. Prohibit the use of vinyl material. (Environmental & aesthetic issues)
  6. Remove digitally printed murals from mural definition.
  7. Prohibit property owner compensation.
  8. Protect murals from destruction under the guise of vandalism abatement!
  9. Registration for vintage and existing murals.
  10. No fee for mural permits.

Recommendations compiled by UPPA (United Painters of Public Art)

The LA Mural Working Group and UPPA are made up of many muralists and mural organizations from around the City of LA.

The main issue is #6, digital murals and the question of whether they are reproductions or original art. Digital murals are not recognized by Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) and California Art Preservation Act (CAPA) as works of art. Vinyl material that digital murals are printed on is an environmental hazard due to its material Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) the most damaging of plastics. If accepted under the mural ordinance, this will be a loophole for the advertising sign companies to continue digital super ads on public spaces and call them murals.

I urge the Venice Neighborhood Council to reconsider their vote under the need for more information, and re-vote when the final Mural Ordinance is completed. I would greatly respect the VNC if they would consider this most important option.


Emily Winters

Chair and Co-Founder, The Venice Arts Council

Member of the LA City Wide Mural Working Group Muralist and 50 year resident of Venice

Dec. 28, 2012

Categories: Art

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