Rules pitched for private murals in Atlanta

A new ordinance is being proposed to regulate public murals on private property.

ATLANTA — Critics are questioning the constitutionality of a proposed Atlanta city ordinance that would regulate outdoor murals on private property.  The ordinance requires four layers of regulatory approval for the art—which is unregulated now.  

Fabian Williams created a 60 foot-high mural depicting civil rights legend Hosea Williams in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward. It’s on private property, and it required no government approval.

"In a private situation like this, there’s really no reason to talk to the city," said Williams.

But some city council members contend otherwise. Their proposed ordinance, sponsored by Joyce Sheperd, would require outdoor murals on private property to get pre-approval from the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs, then the Urban Design Commission, then the Office of Traffic and Transportation, then the Neighborhood Planning Unit in the community where the mural is proposed.  

Language in the proposed ordinance contends the city “has significant governmental interests” in private murals… including traffic safety; creating an aesthetically pleasing environment (and) preserving the quiet enjoyment of adjacent property….”

"(It's) Completely arbitrary," said attorney Gerry Weber, who believes the ordinance would probably fail a court test as written.

"There’s very little standards for the agencies of city government to approve or disapprove the mural," Weber said.

Sheperd send a statement to 11Alive News that said: "There has been a misinterpretation of the legislation. I’m confident these changes will resolve the issue of constitutionality. It will help, not hurt. We will be streamlining the process.  We are currently awaiting final analysis from our legal department."

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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