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Mural Says: Heal The Bay, City Says: Tear It Down

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The environmental group Heal the Bay unveiled a secret mural affixed to a Santa Monica house that looks like a "psychedelic sunset over the sea" yesterday morning to great fanfare — and controversy.

The mural "Oceans at Risk" was painted by street artists Risk and Retna and sponsored by the environmental group Heal the Bay. The group was hoping to leave the four-story mural up until next Saturday's statewide clean-up of California's beaches.

But it might not last until the clean-up next Saturday — or if it does, it will be a very, very expensive billboard. Santa Monica City is threatening to levy a $5,000 daily fine on the mural, which took months of painting. The problem is it was never properly permitted.

"Aside from all thoughts on the intent, message and look of the panels, my approach … is that it is a health and safety concern and a hazard subject to immediate removal," Santa Monica's building official Ron Takiguchi told The Los Angeles Times.

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The Santa Monica Daily Press tells the story of how the Adam Corlin, the owner of the mural — and the house under it — came up with the idea:

Several months ago, Corlin bought a dilapidated home on the 800 block of Berkeley Street. It hadn't been lived in for years, except for the occasional transient that took up residence on the top floor, and it was covered in unwelcome graffiti.
"I looked at it and said, this looks like a billboard," Corlin said.
If companies can use billboards to sell products, Corlin wanted to use his to send a message, one of support for Heal the Bay. He also wanted to do it in a way that nobody could ignore.

He got his wish, and it's not just city hall who wants to see the mural go away fast. When the tarps came down, a half-naked man on a balcony two doors south shouted, "It's a [explicative] eyesore!"

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