Hi Sarah, Sacramento is currently discussing mural policy and would welcome any general suggestions and language you might recommend.  We’re hoping to have some larger community dialogue on the issue before the end of 2019.  We have a great opportunity to develop policy that the city, artists, and the larger community may hopefully come to some level of agreement and consensus on.  But, maybe I’m naive in thinking this.  We’ll see.   I’ve been reviewing and analyzing different approaches around the country.  I’m eagerly reviewing this thread and filing everyone’s great ideas, challenges, and examples.  Any documents you would be willing to share and circulate are very much appreciated. All the best, Donald




Donald Gensler

Art in Public Places, Project Manager

Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission

915 I Street, 3rd Floor

Sacramento, Ca 95814

(o) 916-808-8493

(m) 916-955-4564








From: public_art_network@americansforthearts.simplelists.com <public_art_network@americansforthearts.simplelists.com> On Behalf Of Sarah Conley Odenkirk
Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2019 7:04 PM
To: Pontious, Susan (ART) <susan.pontious@sfgov.org>; public_art_network@americansforthearts.simplelists.com
Subject: RE: Legal Issues with Permitting Private Murals


Susan is absolutely correct!  Generally we see overenthusiastic rules like these when risk management is being super cautious—probably due to some past traumas, but nevertheless . . . .   Another good program to look at is West Hollywood’s Murals Program   They have some very clear guidelines regarding quality and content of murals that are perfectly acceptable to enforce without running afoul of First Amendment issues.


Given the popularity and affordability of murals, they are a relatively easy way to increase the volume and accessibility of public art.  Many communities have similar concerns about advertising and commercial intentions muddying the mural ecosystem as well as worries about appropriate content.  Since many of these concerns  hinge on Federal Law and not local laws, it shouldn’t be too difficult to have some relatively general suggested language (with annotations and alternatives where appropriate) that addresses common issues and challenges in mural programs.  If there is enough interest in this, I would be happy to pull something together and circulate it.  Please indicate if this would be of interest and if there’s some critical mass of interest, I will create a document to share for comment, review and general reference.





Sarah Conley Odenkirk


6253 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 201

Los Angeles, CA 90028

Office:  323.499.1144 
Cell:  310.990.9581



On July 2, 2019 at 5:36:09 PM, Pontious, Susan (ART) (susan.pontious@sfgov.org) wrote:


It sounds like you have an overly cautious legal dept. that doesn’t like murals and has exaggerated the “risk” involved.  In San Francisco, the Arts Commission by City Charter has approval authority of all artwork on either public property or on private property if it is funded with city funds.  We have been approving murals since 1932.  The question is, does your legal dept. have the authority to define murals as signs? Most cities have sign ordinances that define signage and legal must follow the law, they don’t make it.


Susan Pontious

Civic Art Collection and Public Art Program Director

San Francisco Arts Commission

401 Van Ness Ave. #325

San Francisco, CA 94102

Direct: (415) 252-2241

FAX: 415-934-1022





This message is from outside the City email system. Do not open links or attachments from untrusted sources.


Hello, Public Art Network,


Our City is getting several requests from businesses to paint murals on their buildings, and we are fortunate to have the support of our City Arts and Culture Board as well as the City Planning and Permitting Dept.  However, our legal department does not want to allow businesses to paint murals on their property because of some recent court cases involving freedom of speech.  Legal does not want the City to be in a position where we would be regulating freedom of speech through artwork approval, so Legal is categorizing all murals as signage.  And, of course, a mural does not follow our City’s design guidelines for signage, so they are not approved.  Does this sound like a familiar situation to anyone, and if so, how has your City handled the legal and permitting process for privately owned/funded murals?


Thank  you so much for your input!


Amanda Still

Arts and Culture Coordinator

City of Georgetown





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