Art store’s mural must go

leallan@tcsn.netJuly 2, 2012 

I agree with the decision by the Atascadero Design Review Commission that the mural painted on the art supply store on Traffic Way has to go, with or without a permit.

I guess there are two issues here.

First of all, the mural is atrocious. The commission opined that the mural, painted by a muralist traveling through town, was “out of character” with the rest of what is happening in the downtown area.

The second issue is that the art store owner didn’t get a permit for the mural. I would be the first to agree that the painting that now adorns the art store is a very subjective issue; art is, as the saying goes, “in the eye of the beholder.” I would hope that even going through the permit process would prohibit such a mural from any building in Atascadero.

Several years ago, I was on a downtown committee that was tasked with coming up with some design standards for everything from sidewalk furniture to awnings and signage within the downtown area.

We did a walk-around and pointed out good and bad things in that region of the city between Morro Road and the police station. I pointed to the face of the art supply store and asked if anyone liked it. Most said it was “whimsical” and didn’t have any problem with it. I was in the minority in thinking it didn’t think it fit in with the downtown and what was happening just across the street with the newly finished Carlton Hotel.

Trying to judge what kind of mural would be acceptable and what would not is dangerous territory for the city. It should simply forbid them altogether. Signs that cover the entire side of a building are another thing, such as the one on the new beer pub next to Atascadero Creek.

That one went through a review process.

So, the art store owners could pay the $460 appeal fee and take their chances with the city’s seven-member Planning Commission.

Or they could agree to paint over the mural at the same time the city gets that nonconforming plastic banner off the wall on a small salon on El Camino Real in the Colony Square center, or removes the nonconforming A-frame signs that litter the corner of El Camino Real and Entrada Avenue, or even forces Carl’s Jr. to take down its old monument sign in front of the building it vacated about five years go.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for more than 45 years. His column appears on the Local page every Tuesday. He can be reached at 466-8529 or

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