The city of Los Angeles once banned murals on private property, and street artists were rarely happy with the way City Hall dealt with them, which was often via police or prosecutors.
See also: Carmen Trutanich's War on Art Murals
What a difference a few years make. L.A. City Council members are celebrating a renewed mural and street art scene following the overturning of the ban last summer.
Now, L.A. City Councilman Paul Krekorian wants to protect some of the very murals once seen by some in City Hall as illicit works of art:
Krekorian recently proposed an ordinance that would double the reward money offered to people who turn in taggers who ruin murals with their tagging.
That's right, Krekorian's ordinance would, in its own words, "increase the reward for the capture and conviction of graffiti vandals, when the property defaced is a mural, to $2,000." That reward offer today stands at $1,000.
The councilman writes in his ordinance that murals are a city treasure worth saving:
Regrettably, murals are a favored target of many graffiti vandals. Over the last year, the City passed the Mural Ordinance and set aside $1.75 million for a mural restoration program. As we invest more City resources in restoration and encourage the creation of more murals, it is important that we also take steps to ensure that this art is not defaced or damaged.
Krekorian's office says he's also launching a campaign against graffiti in his district, including mural-laden North Hollywood, where, the councilman's people say, tagging on art, billboards and street signs has become a big problem.
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He tells us:
This is a step toward getting rid of the stain of graffiti that plagues our neighborhoods. In my district alone, at least one mural gets defaced each month. Tagging a mural isn't an artistic statement - it's an attempt to destroy art in a public space. Our treasured murals are the city's real street art. They enrich our collective history and should be protected. Vandals need to know they will be held accountable for defacing them.
The proposal is headed to the Public Safety Committee and, if it's approved there, will face the full City Council.