Because of our deep Mexican-American population and heritage, L.A. has pretty much become the mural capital of the United States.

Pair that with the global street-art explosion centered right here in Los Angeles, and you have a significant cultural movement. Except that murals are illegal in the city! Really. Today the L.A. City Council changed all that:

The body gave its initial approval to an ordinance by Councilman Jose Huizar that would lift a decade-old ban on murals on private buildings in L.A.

The ban was originally concerned with billboards and advertising, which have overrun our town. And the council had a hard time coming up with a way to distinguish ads from art.

They did it this time, saying murals are noncommercial works of art.

See also: Carmen Trutanich's War on Art Murals.

Murals on single-family homes would not be allowed (take that, Chris Brown!), but the council directed city staff to come up with ways that neighborhoods could decide on their own whether to allow them on houses.

For the ban to be lifted for good the council needs to take a second, confirmatory vote. We'll keep you posted.

[Added at 2:03 p.m.]: Huizar's office tells us the second vote is expected to happen a week from today. The councilman also is asking for a report on how his district in downtown and the Eastside along with Councilman Gil Cedillo's district in the central and northeast sections of the city can allow murals on homes as part of a pilot program.

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