Art or Ad? L.A.’s Mural Law Written in Gray Ink

In 2002, the city of Los Angeles placed a moratorium banning murals on private property. As a result of the ban, murals became illegal in Los Angeles. Many up-and-coming artists were forced to take down their murals or have their artwork painted over.

Once known as the “mural capital of the world,” Los Angeles became a place where murals were no longer welcomed. The mural ban was intended as a measure to regulate illegal advertisements.

In 2013, the Los Angeles City Council took a step toward restoring power to artists by voting to overturn a citywide ban on murals and introducing a new ordinance that separated advertisements from murals.

The new ordinance follows so that an artist must submit an application to the Department of Cultural Affairs, and conduct a community hearing before receiving permission to paint a mural on private property.

Most recently, a mural dedicated to the popular indie band Foster the People was removed because it was originally placed on a state historic building. It also blurred the line between what is considered art and advertisement.

In this segment of “SoCal Connected,” reporter Nic Cha Kim chats with Isabel Rojas-Williams, head of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, an organization dedicated to safeguarding murals in L.A., including Daniel Lahoda of L.A. Freewalls, an organization that helps facilitate murals between artists and building owners.

Kim also speaks with L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar, one of the main backers of the ordinance, as well as Man One, a native Angeleno muralist who has applied for a permit to paint murals through the new ordinance.