Ten years after a city-wide moratorium on wall paintings in public view was instituted in Los Angeles, the Department of City Planning has passed an ordinance to lift the ban, inviting a wave of restrained optimism among muralists and street art advocates. “This is the first step,” mural conservationist Isabel Rojas-Williams told ARTINFO after leaving City Hall Thursday afternoon, noting that the ordinance is still subject to review by the Planning and Land Use Management(PLUM) commission, and subsequently by the city council.
Cheerful and garrulous, Rojas-Williams pointed to differences between this most recent ordinance and a draft that was rejected by the Department of City Planning when it was reviewed this past July. “We’ve been working on the mural ordinance for over a year,” she said, “and a great percentage of the population opposed to the one that was presented on July 12th.”
Whereas the earlier draft stipulated that murals could not be painted on residential buildings with fewer than five units, the newer draft only asks for two. Furthermore, according to Rojas-Williams’s description (check later to see a copy of the ordinance in full), digitally-projected images on the city’s walls will be protected with the same privileges as conventional murals under the new law.
Referencing the dramatic unveiling earlier this week of David Alfaro Siqueiros’s 1932 mural “América Tropical,” Rojas-Williams opened her speech to the Department of City Planning by mentioning the rainbow she saw overhead as she entered the building in downtown Los Angeles. “I took this as a sign from Siqueiros for the younger muralists who are fighting for their right to make murals again,” she said. “I’m glad that it passed, but it definitely needs to be worked at. There are a lot of issues that we need to work at, but we’re moving forward.”
— Reid Singer