Ray Bryars: Approval of Grass Valley mural should be revisited
April 20, 2017
The Grass Valley Planning Commission on March 21 once again managed a surreal meeting that somehow ended up making a decision that defied all reasonable logic.
Agenda item 7.4 was a "Development Review Committee recommendation on a 20 by 80 foot wall mural located on the north facing wall of 101 Mill Street."
One would have thought the mural in the packet the Planning Commission was presented with was the one being reviewed, but oh, no.
The colorful mural that was briefly shown on the screen was not the one to be reviewed, instead a sepia toned, hard to discern mural with an oversized "GRASS VALLEY" was now presented. Why the meeting wasn't stopped right there, boggles the mind.
It wasn't clear to me who or what decided that the original mural needed to be withdrawn from discussion, but somehow the original was pulled and a new one was magically drawn up literally hours before the meeting started.
This should not have been allowed, the approval process should have been restarted.
To give them credit, the mural proponents did some due diligence by showing business owners the original mural and getting them to sign a sheet certifying that they were in favor of the mural. But that was the original mural, not the one that was shown to the Planning Commission. Amazingly, the commission decided that the hastily-drawn-up, hard-to-discern mural proposal should be passed along to the City Council, which approved the project on April 11. I'm sorry to be harsh, but these planning commissioners are just not doing their jobs.
Believe it or not, I'm in favor of some strategically placed, well thought out, nicely drawn murals, but this is not what I saw.
A good mural should have an approved message or theme, reflect the positive aspects of the community and be tastefully presented.
In addition, making a decision to create a mural should involve the community. There should be a competitive aspect where a number of local artists present proposals that are then judged by the community or leaders of the community.
The sleight of hand approach that I witnessed should not be allowed.
I urge the City Council to insist that the process be restarted with some clear guidelines. Only then will we get a mural that truly reflects what our great community deserves.
Ray Bryars lives in Nevada City.
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