Murals were finally legalized in Los Angeles about a year ago, but several notable pieces created since then—including two different ones that were touted as LA's first legal mural—have already been whitewashed. In fact, the Downtown News points out, more murals have been covered up in Downtown (a mural hotspot) than have been approved at this point. Part of the issue is permitting. The mural ordinance that passed last year requires approval from the Department of Cultural Affairs and paperwork signed by building owners. Sounds simple. But some murals (for a number of reasons) might require additional permits from City Planning, Building and Safety, or even the fire department, and it seems like that information might not be getting out.
It seems like the process is even complicated for those who are issuing non-compliance notices (which mean that a mural has to be painted over), as was the case with a piece at La Reyna restaurant on Seventh and Mateo, which was cited by Building and Safety and ultimately taken down. The mural may have had a chance to be grandfathered in after the new ordinance went through, but it was painted over before anyone understood there were other options. (That incident lent itself to an amendment in the ordinance that was supposed to make the process clearer.) In other instances, the right paperwork was signed by the wrong people (tenants instead of building owners)—a small mistake that was enough to bring get a mural whitewashed.
The new mural in Skid Row was fully, correctly permitted and is there to stay, and it's hoped that it and a few others like it mean the tide is turning. Isabel Rojas-Williams, executive director of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, emphasized that there needs to be more awareness about how to keep a mural up, but says that the onus is on artists to figure out what needs to be done or signed in order to protect their work.
· Mural Momentum in the Central City [LADN]
· Breaking: Murals Are Now Legal Again in Los Angeles [Curbed LA]
· Here is LA's First Legal Mural in a Very Long Time [Curbed LA]