La Jolla committee discusses guidelines for murals
Published - 08/21/20 - 12:00 PM | 1879 views | 1 1 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One of the public murals in La Jolla.
One of the public murals in La Jolla.

Judging the content of public murals is a slippery slope, and those murals promoting commercial interests should not be allowed. That was the general consensus of La Jolla Planned District Ordinance Committee that met virtually in August.

The 11-member advisory group is comprised of appointed representatives from La Jolla Community Planning Association, La Jolla Town Council, La Jolla Village Merchants Association, and Bird Rock Community Council.

The PDO committee continued to grapple with the vexing issue of what is appropriate – and not – regarding the placement of public murals within the La Jolla PDO. Previously, the committee formed a subcommittee to explore guidelines governing future mural placement.

The charge of La Jolla PDO board is to uphold the La Jolla Community Plan adopted in 1976. That plan is the blueprint guiding the community’s commercial and residential development. The PDO’s mission is to retain and enhance the economic, historical, architectural, educational, civic, social, cultural, and aesthetic values, and the overall quality of life within the coastal community.

“If we start going into the content of [murals], we’re going to end up being art critics and that’s not our job,” contended board member Gail Forbes. “We’re not art critics.”

Asked Forbes: “If we decide to police murals, do we do it via the sign ordinance? In that case, all of the murals would be small, because they can only represent a certain percentage of the side of the building. And all the signs and murals would count towards signage on a building.”

Asked Suzanne Baracchini of Windansea: “If the art was something of an explicit sensual nature, would you allow it? There’s a whole cross-section of the public you don’t want to offend. In La Jolla, you don’t want to gain a reputation for being political or commercial.”

Murals of La Jolla is a project of the Athenaeum. Initiated by the La Jolla Community Foundation in 2010, the project is a means to enhance the community by commissioning public art projects on private property. An Art Advisory Committee composed of the heads of the major visual arts organizations in La Jolla commissions artists to propose images on specific walls on private buildings.

LJPDO chair Deborah Marengo said she got the impression from Lynda Forsha, Murals of La Jolla executive director, that: “They didn’t want to participate any further, felt that Murals of La Jolla was its own separate entity. So they already had their guidelines, and felt they should be operating the way they had been operating.”

Diane Kane, president of La Jolla CPA, which makes land-use recommendations to the City, objected to public murals promoting marketing. “There have been some lovely images, but they were on the walls of buildings that we're promoting what was going on inside the building,” she said. “So from our perspective, they had crossed the lines. Where is the dividing line? When is it a sign, and when is it not a sign?”

Baracchini suggested the PDO committee might consider pragmatic guidelines for murals.

“Not being art critics, I don’t see any reason why the citizens of La Jolla could not ask to have guidelines that say, ‘No commercial interests, no wording, no hashtagging, no political statements (on murals).’ Is there anything wrong with having those kinds of guidelines?"

La Jolla PDO Committee will meet next virtually on Monday, Sept. 14 at 4 p.m.



The advisory group representing La Jolla Shores neighborhood in August got an update on the success of new outdoor dining on Avenida de La Playa, the community’s short commercial strip.

“Outdoor dining seems to be going very well,” said La Jolla Shores Association board member Phil Wise, who has spearheaded the project to aid Shores restaurants during COVID. Wise warned however that the permitting allowing outdoor dining will soon run out.

“The permitting will only run until Sept. 27, but the restaurants want it to go to the end of the year, if not longer,” he said. “They can do that if they stop using special-event permitting, and switch to parklets.”

“This has really been a wonderful thing for the restaurants and the whole community, which needed something that’s positive and upbeat at this point in time,” said Janie Emerson, LJSA president.

The group also heard concerns about the City’s proposed Complete Communities plan, which seeks to focus future redevelopment in corridors near bus routes and trolley stations. Some Shores residents fear the proposal, if enacted, could allow redevelopment along Bus Route 30 and La Jolla Shores Drive.



In August, La Jolla Village Merchants Association said it is looking for a new business improvement district office.

 “Working with our budget, I’ve been looking to find something that could serve as a true main street office where people could pick up information about tourism, and have access to other publications,” said LJVMA executive director Jodi Rudick, who added she was eyeing Upper Girard for a prospective new office site.

Pointing out many restaurants closed indoors due to COVID have moved outdoors, Rudick noted a list of La Jolla restaurants offering outdoor dining with a slideshow of their setups can be viewed at .

“We’ve got around 50 or 55 outdoor dining places in extended patios,” noted LJVMA board member Morgan Barnes.

Rudick added parklets, now allowed by the City, are also being considered by some La Jolla merchants.

“I love it, and I know Jodi has been working to permit the parklets,” commented LJVMA president Brett Murphy.


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Charles Kaminski
August 22, 2020
Would Picasso's most famous work, Guernica, be allowed? It is a political statement. Would Silence = Death be allowed? Would BLM in a mural be allowed? Would Chicano Park murals be allowed? Would Chicago's Wall of Respect by Black artists be allowed? Murals are political in all respects. Making "nice" murals is art for the privileged few.
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