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City officials may clarify what sets public art funding in motion

August 16, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

A city program that collects money from developers to spend on public art may get a small tweak as officials hope to clarify what triggers the fees.

On Tuesday, the City Council took the first step to clarify that the urban art fee applies to all new buildings, remodels, repairs, and expansions of $500,000 or more in certain development or mixed-use zones, such as downtown.

Currently, the program requires builders to provide artwork on-site worth 2% of the project’s value or pay a fee of 1% of the project’s value to the city. It also applies to projects that “intensify” a site’s use. The problem is, according to planning department officials, intensifying a use has many definitions.

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It could apply to projects that are changing from a deli to a fast-food restaurant, which would need more parking spaces, or a business that wants to add alcohol service, according to a city report.

So the council this week voted unanimously to start the process to remove that portion of the provision. The proposed change must now go to the city’s Planning Commission for approval.

Since implementing the urban art program, Glendale has collected about $1.4 million from developers, mostly from those building mixed-use complexes in downtown.

The city’s Arts & Culture Commission have been discussing for nearly a year how Glendale should spend that money in the hopes of becoming a public art draw, like Santa Monica or Pasadena, in order to shake off the city’s reputation for dullness. In 2010, a marketing survey found that many people think of Glendale as boring. Officials have said one way to improve that could be to enhance entertainment options.

The commission is still finalizing details on how to spend the money, but there have been talks of murals, performance art and larger-scale events such as Glow, a bi-annual all-night international arts festival.

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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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