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L.A. Now Live: City Council lifts decades-old ban on public murals

August 29, 2013
  • A man walks past graffiti art on the exterior of a warehouse in the downtown Los Angeles Arts District.
A man walks past graffiti art on the exterior of a warehouse in the downtown… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday lifted a decade-long ban on public murals, marking a decisive victory for artists who argued the law made no sense in a city with such a rich tradition of street art.

Join us at 9 a.m. when we talk with Times reporter Catherine Saillant about the change and how residents and business owners are responding.

The decision culminates years of debate over how Los Angeles should regulate murals, which have chronicled generations of the city's history, from the mid-20th century struggles of Latinos on the Eastside to freeway displays celebrating the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

The new rules, which must come back for an expected final approval next week, will permit new murals in business and industrial zones as long as artists register projects with the city and pay a $60 application fee. Commercial messages are prohibited and works must remain for at least two years as part of the city effort to control advertising.

Residential areas will be allowed to "opt in" to the mural program by petitioning the city. Once approved, those neighborhoods could see artworks on walls and homes.

Councilman Jose Huizar, who sponsored the new regulations, initially hoped to permit murals in all areas of the city and allow individual single-family neighborhoods to "opt out" by a petition process.

Several artists argued for unfettered access to residential areas. Muralist Kent Twitchell, whose iconic 1971 painting movie idol Steve McQueen is on a two-story house west of downtown, said he was disappointed with the general exclusion of single-family homes.

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