A neighborhood public meeting, without the public

The District 10 Field Office, where the UNNC meetings take place. | Kirby Pedersen

The District 10 Field Office, where the UNNC meetings take place. | Kirby Pedersen

The United Neighborhoods Neighborhood Council met recently to discuss matters in West Jefferson and Arlington Heights, but no one from these areas was present to vote on or discuss the issues. The disorganization and complex content of UNNC meetings may have deterred public participation despite its members’ good intentions.

A left turn at the run-down liquor store and a right at the corner where homeless men were sitting led visitors to the parking lot for the Council District 10 Field Office. A trip through glass doors then welcomed them to a room in shades of brown – tables, floors and walls. Harsh fluorescent lighting shone down upon the three small folding tables with peeling paint that converged to form a larger table. Large trashcans lined one wall and the only pop of color in the room was a fake plant leaning against one corner of the room. This was the location of the sparsely attended UNNC meeting, but there were no physical signs or notices that informed the public of the upcoming gathering. [Read more…]

Proposed changes to an LA mural ordinance prompt ‘art or advertisement’ debate

Under the current regulations, Los Angeles has practically outlawed murals as a byproduct of strict ordinances aimed at keeping the explosion of billboards and over-sized advertisements under control. Now, changes are being proposed that would make the art LA is known for actually legal within its city limits.

At a United Neighborhoods Neighborhood Council meeting last Thursday, the agenda included an item calling for discussion of the Department of City Planning’s proposed ordinance that aims to change some of the current laws to make it easier for artists to make their mark on the city.

Council member Laura Meyer presented a slideshow of photographs to the council as a sort of pop-quiz on art versus advertising. As each image popped up, members would look for criteria they felt distinguished a mural from a billboard before calling out their decision.

Many images met with a resounding “art!” or “advertisement!” But just as many weren’t so easily or evenly agreed upon.

“I’ll just tell you all now, this is all a trick question,” council member Norman Gilmore said.

With the intricacy of the decision well-illustrated, the council moved into a closer look at the ordinance. There are four main point of the proposal that the DCP hopes will encourage artists while discouraging advertisers.

The first point is requiring a permit for potential muralists. A new permit fee of $199 will be assessed after plans for the mural are approved.

Second, restrictions on the type of media that can be used to build the mural are aimed at keeping art and ads separate. While the list of approved materials includes only paint and tile in the proposal, some artists are concerned that this will limit their options for creating more elaborate or unique work.

Taking aim at the tendency for ads to change frequently, a third condition for a new mural is a proposed duration of five years. This could not only ensure that an artist’s work remains intact for a longer period of time, but also make it harder for advertisers to commit to one ad that could potentially become quickly outdated.

Similar to the required time a mural must be left intact, the fourth and final condition references the Visual Artist’s Rights Act, which states that—unless under commission—an artist’s work belongs to them and so cannot be covered up or disassembled in any way.

After discussing these four points, the UNNC moved to compose a letter to the DCP that would highlight the concerns and suggestions the council had worked up during their meeting.

All that is left now is to wait and see if any changes will be made to the proposal based on feedback from the UNNC and other members of the Los Angeles community.

Map of South Los Angeles Neighborhood Councils and Meeting Calendar

View South Los Angeles Neighborhood Councils in a larger map


Neighborhood Councils in the South Los Angeles region:

Central Alameda Neighborhood Council
Community and Neighbors for Ninth District Unity Neighborhood Council
Empowerment Congress Central Area Neighborhood Development Council
Empowerment Congress North Area Neighborhood Development Council
Empowerment Congress Southeast Area Neighborhood Development Council
Empowerment Congress Southwest Area Neighborhood Development Council
Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Development Council
Mid City Neighborhood Council
Park Mesa Heights Community Council
South Central Neighborhood Council
United Neighborhoods Neighborhood Council
Voices of 90037 Neighborhood Council
West Adams Neighborhood Council


What are Neighborhood Councils? from Empower LA.

For more information on Neighborhood Councils, visit Empower L.A.