LA proposes lifting mural ban

Boyle Heights

Grant Slater/KPCC

Street murals are scattered across Boyle Heights from storefronts to public buildings. Many, like this one in Estrada Gardens, carry political messages.

Boyle Heights

Grant Slater/KPCC

A mural off 4th Street in western Boyle Heights implores residents to vote because it will lead to government funding.

Boyle Heights

Eric Zassenhaus/KPCC

A woman makes her way past a mural in Boyle Heights.

Mariachi Bands Honors The Patron Of Music, St. Cecilia

David McNew/Getty Images

A man holds a violin near a mural at Mariachi Plaza during the annual procession and Mass in honor of the Feast Day of St. Cecilia, patron saint of music, Boyle Heights, 2008.

Rick Coca

Los Angeles City councilman Jose Huizar leans against “History of Highland Park” in Boyle Heights, a privately funded mural displayed on public property.


The cultural, religious and ethnic melting pot that is Los Angeles starts in Boyle Heights and emanates outward with murals.


A mural from Boyle Heights taken in March, 2011.

For nine years Los Angeles has not granted new permits for murals on private walls that face public spaces. L.A. city officials Wednesday released proposed changes to city law that would lift the ban on artistic murals.

The ban originated in a legal fight between the city and proponents of signs and billboards. Because of it, paintings that used to glisten have disappeared under layers of tagging.

Tanner Blackman’s worked on the draft ordinance for LA’s planning department. "Many of our most prominent and accomplished muralists are going to other cities to do their work," Blackman said, "because there is no way to get a new mural approved on private property right now."

The proposed ordinance is supposed to keep advertisements from slipping in under the murals radar. A mural permit would cost $199.

The city would automatically grant it without regard to content as long as the work fits the definition of a mural. That is, an original work of art, not on vinyl or computer-generated. The creators of the work would not be able to pay the owner of the private wall that displays it.

In the next two months, before a city council vote, L.A. officials plan to field public comment on the proposed murals ordinance.

L.A. officials are set to discuss the proposed murals ordinance Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at Self Help Graphics on First Street in Boyle Heights. Another forum’s planned for next Tuesday in Leimert Park.

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