Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Los Angeles City Council paves way for return of murals

Kevin Ferguson/KPCC

The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-2 to lift a decade-long moratorium on public art murals.

With a 13-2 vote, the Los Angeles City Council took steps Wednesday to overturn a a ban on murals, although the question of whether art displays belong on single-family homes remains unanswered. 

Because the ordinance did not receive a unanimous vote, it must receive a second vote by the council next week. 

"The city of Los Angeles was once known as the mural capital of the world," said Councilman Jose Huizar, who sponsored the ordinance. "The city of Los Angeles was known as  a place where it supported the arts, where we had free expression on our walls, and where we wanted to make sure that we continued to allow the artists' communities to flourish."

The new ordinance would allow non-commercial murals to once again be created throughout Los Angeles. A decade ago, a ban on murals was put into effect as the city struggled to regulate commercial billboards. Now, the Department of Cultural Affairs will have the authority to permit murals that will:


Maven's Morning Coffee: Governor's prison plan, evaluations at LAUSD, CEQA gets a fresh look

Gov. Brown Signs Legislation At Google HQ That Allows Testing Of Autonomous Vehicles

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Gov. Jerry Brown wants to spend $315 million this year to move inmates to local lockups and out-of-state facilities. California is under a federal court order to reduce its prison population.

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Today is Wednesday, Aug. 28, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:


Gov. Jerry Brown wants to spend $315 million this year to put inmates in local lockups as a federal court demands California reduce its prison population, reports the Sacramento Bee. The spending proposal puts the governor at odds with other Democratic leaders. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is expected to release his own plan later this morning.

Mayor Eric Garcetti named a USC associate dean as the chief of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, reports KPCC. Linda Lopez will be responsible for helping immigrants connect with city services.


Latinos pressure Whittier city council to hold public vote on district elections in June 2014

Plaintiffs in Whittier voting lawsuit

Sharon McNary/KPCC

Whittier College student Jafet Diego, homemaker Lisa Lopez and attorney Miguel Garcia are the three Whittier residents who sued the city under the California Voting Rights Act. The lawsuit calls on the city to create city council voting districts, which they expect would give Latino candidates a better chance to win elections. Only one Latino has won election to the Whittier City Council since 1989, and one was appointed.

Whittier City Council members said they didn't want to cut the city into council election districts, but decided Tuesday to place the decision in voters' hands to avoid a costly legal battle.

Three Whittier residents had sued the city to overturn its at-large elections, in which voters throughout the city select all council members.

They said the at-large system diluted Latino voting power and prevented them from electing candidates of their choice. The lawsuit claims the at-large system violated the California Voting Rights Act, a 2002 law which requires local governments to create voting districts if at-large voting results in racially polarized voting patterns.

After four hours of public comment and discussion, the Whittier City Council unanimously decided to put a district plan before voters on the June 2014 ballot.  


Garcetti names USC dean to head Office of Immigrant Affairs

Linda Lopez Office of Immigrant Affairs

Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti

Linda Lopez says she wants to integrate immigrants into the social life of Los Angeles as the mayor's new chief of the Office of Immigrant Affairs.

Linda Lopez, Associate Dean for Diversity and Strategic Initiatives at USC’s Dornslife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, is L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s pick to head the city's newly-revived Office of Immigrant Affairs.

"Linda Lopez will focus on building a dual-purpose office to help people access services and drive policy to integrate immigrants into the social, political, cultural, and economic fabric of the city,” Garcetti said in a statement. "The Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs will play a critical role given L.A.'s large immigrant population, and the national spotlight on immigration legislation."

In the past, the Democratic mayor has said he supports providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Lopez, 43, is a political scientist. She was born in Lawndale, raised in Upland, and attended USC. Lopez previously worked at the National Science Foundation in the Directorate for Social, Behavior and Economic Sciences.


Los Angeles' mural moratorium could be overturned

Boyle Heights

Eric Zassenhaus/KPCC

This work in Boyle Heights by East Los Streetscapers (David Botello, Wayne Healy, George Yepes) helped establish L.A.'s reputation as a capital of mural art.

A decade-long moratorium on public murals could be overturned Wednesday when the Los Angeles City Council votes on an ordinance regulating public art.

Los Angeles was once known as one of the world's mural capitals, with public displays of art stretching from East L.A. to the freeways to Venice. But that changed 10 years ago when city officials tried to regulate commercial billboards. According to Councilman Jose Huizar, art got tangled up with advertisements.

"The idea was that the city first wanted to better get a handle on what all the sign litigation was about, [to] resolve that before we move back into murals," Huizar said. "So there was a sort of moratorium on murals and now that we've gotten a better handle on the litigation, we're moving forward to allow murals to flourish once again."

The Los Angeles City Council is on the cusp of approving an ordinance that would allow artists to once again paint murals in the city. The artworks would be allowed as long as permits are sought and issued, the murals meet size and space restrictions, and are non-commercial in nature. Vintage art murals would be grandfathered in.