The Magazine

The Mural Police

Sep 9, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 01 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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It's not often that The Scrapbook finds itself defending “graffiti artists.” But when they find themselves on the barrel end of silly and borderline extortionate government regulations, we can’t help but feel solidarity.



Here’s what happened: A few weeks ago, a “graffiti artist” in Portland, Oregon, was commissioned to paint a pen-and-ink-style mural on the side of two buildings. He had completed one, and was about halfway through the other, when the Portland police department ordered him to paint over them—even though he was creating the art at the express wishes of the buildings’ owners. It seems neither the artist nor the buildings’ owners had filed a “mural permit” with the city. According to the local media, “the mural permitting process includes submitting three full-sized copies of the site plan drawn to scale and hosting a neighborhood meeting, which must be advertised 21 days beforehand at the site of the proposed mural.”

And—you guessed it—the city of Portland also demands a $50 “basic mural permit fee” and a $142 “structural plan review fee.” Because, really, what’s the point in having art in your city if you can’t tax it?

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