Use of arts fees to be revisited by group

The City Council wants the Arts Commission to consider expanding public art funding to include the performing arts.

A city ordinance requires developers to provide art or pay a fee of 1 1/4 percent of the costs on construction valued at $225,000 or more, to be used for the purchase or commission of art to be installed in public view — the valuation provided by the applicant.

The council Tuesday unanimously approved a proposal by Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson and Councilwoman Toni Iseman to direct the Arts Commission to consider amending the ordinance.

“Toni and I thought we could use this fund for other art purposes,” Pearson said.


The current Art on Public Places ordinance defines public as an exterior area on public or private property that is easily accessible and clearly visible to the general public.

If on private property, the area must be open to the general public and clearly visible from adjacent public property such as streets, sidewalks or public beaches.

Art installed under the strictures of the ordinance include the clearly visible twinkling bench created by Leah Vasquez on the corner of Upland Road and South Coast Highway or the wee “Shopper” sculpture on Ocean Avenue.

Less visible: The water sculpture installed after a major remodel of the Surf & Sand can be glimpsed only from street, but it is installed in the entry courtyard.


The tile inset in the sidewalk at the entry Casa de Camino really is invisible unless one is standing on it.

A metal arc separating the entrance and exit of Irvine Cove Crest, which was approved as the fulfillment of the Art in Public Places requirement for the development, may have been visible, but was unrecognizable by most passers-by as sculpture.

Pearson and Iseman believe that the economic downturn warrants a change in the ordinance, which they discussed with two commissioners before presenting the proposal to the council for approval of a full commission debate.

Expenditures from the Art-in-Lieu fund are approved by the council after consideration of the recommendations of the Arts Commission, an advisory board.

The fund balance is approximately $106,600.

BARBARA DIAMOND can be reached at (949) 494-4321 or