March 26, 2004

Exclusive: City Again Moves To Fine Mirador Over Mural

Katz And Leonard Take Sides In Enforcing Sign Code

Long-time readers might recall a controversy last Summer which involved a pair of garage-door murals at Mirador Community Store in Southeast Portland.

Specifically, the Bureau of Development Services had threatened to fine the store if the murals were not painted over because they violated the City's controversial sign code.

On the same day that this news hit the local papers, Commissioner Randy Leonard opted to suspend enforcement of the BDS fines against Mirador.

Ultimately, this conflict intermingled with negotiations Leonard entered into with Clear Channel Outdoor regarding that company's lawsuit against the City over its sign code -- negotiations which Leonard eventually dropped because of opposition from Mayor Vera Katz.

Eventually, Katz released her own proposal for how to regulate murals separate from the City's sign code.

Now comes word that earlier this week, Mirador received a new citation from BDS based upon their murals' violation of the City's sign code. What's more, this move may be setting the stage for yet another dispute between Leonard and Katz over one of the bureaus in Leonard's portfolio.

"I have been working on a new approach to murals that would exempt public art murals from the City's sign code," Mayor Katz wrote in response to the Mirador situation. "However, until my proposal is finalized and adopted by the City Council, the current sign code remains in force. ... To ensure fair and equitable treatment, the City cannot allow selective enforcement of the sign code."

For his part, Commissioner Leonard says that he will "not allow the Bureau of Development Services to fine [Mirador] or force them to cover over [their] wonderful mural."

"I have told the Bureau to back off," Leonard said. "I know I am on shaky legal ground in doing so -- however, I am willing to take that risk in order that the greater public good be served by allowing [the] mural to stay as is."

Leonard and Katz already are embroiled in a controversy over the Mayor's use of the Portland Police Bureau to investigate who in the Bureau of Licenses leaked information to Willamette Week regarding irregularities in that bureau.

In addition, the Mayor had disapproved of Leonard's negotiations with Clear Channel, just as Leonard now believes the Mayor's murals proposal will be found unconstitutional.

As for Mirador itself, the store's owners -- while frustrated about the possibility of having to remove their murals considering that the Mayor's own proposal already is in the pipeline -- are willing to try working through discussions with the City in an attempt to find a solution.

"For example, we would do whatever we had to do legally to put a board over the garage," said Lynn Hanrahan. "And then we'd paint it over so it looks nice, and we'd just wait."

A meeting has been scheduled for next week between Mirador and a representative of the Bureau of Development Services.

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Comments (2)

  1. Jack Bog on 26 Mar 2004

    Maybe Randy should find a lawyer who would tell him that fining the Mirador would violate the state or federal constitutions. Then, he'd have to follow his conscience. And of course, not be distracted by matters of "process." 8c)

  2. Gary Marschke on 29 Mar 2004

    Y'know this isn't the first time I've seen parallels between Diane and Randy. Hmmmmm.