City eyes art funds

Officials target development requirement as an area that can be improved.

May 09, 2010|By Melanie Hicken

CITY HALL — As city officials continue to delve deeper into the realm of public art programs, Councilman John Drayman has proposed to modify a city policy in hopes of generating funds.

Currently, the city’s Downtown Specific Plan requires any new development valued above $500,000 to incorporate an on-site public art installation equal to 1% of the project’s cost or pay a 1% in-lieu fee to an urban art fund.

So far, both developments subject to the requirement have opted to include the public art component. The proposed Hyatt Place Glendale hotel will include a stainless-steel sculpture by a United Nations-sanctioned artist. The proposed Legendary Tower condominium complex will include an interactive light sculpture. Combined, the art projects are valued at about $750,000.


Drayman has said he thinks those funds could be put to better use.

“I would rather see those funds directed to larger-scale public art projects that the public as a whole can benefit from — so many of these are projects that are becoming harder and harder to finance,” he said Friday.

The City Council at Tuesday’s Redevelopment Agency meeting will discuss Drayman’s proposal to scrap the on-site public art option and instead require the 1% fee, which could then be used to fund city art programs.

Drayman says the funds could fund myriad programming — from helping to support the creation of a civic gallery to subsidizing operations at the Alex Theatre — at a time when city funds are especially tight during the protracted recession.

On Friday, Mayor Ara Najarian said he understood Drayman’s logic.

“A developer may meet his requirement by putting up a piece of work that really doesn’t do anything for the city in our opinion,” he said. “Instead of him doing that art and getting it installed, we would get the funding and in our best judgment place artwork or develop programs which would meet the intent of creating more art creativity and visual excitement in the downtown area.”

Still, there are potential legal issues that must be considered, according to a city report.

While many communities have requirements similar to the public art requirement in the downtown plan, city officials couldn’t find a city that imposes a 1% art requirement without the option of an on-site art installation.

In order to impose a fee without the on-site option, under state law, the city would have to conduct a study to justify the fee.

Drayman said at the very least the city should develop incentives for developers to place the funds.

“To me, that is a good way to balance the impact of new development with a fee that actually will bring art and culture to larger numbers of our residents,” he said.

Tuesday’s joint meeting of the City Council and Redevelopment Agency will take place at 2:30 p.m. in Room 105 of the Municipal Services Building, 633 E. Broadway.

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