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Council taking up Remax

By Nicholas Grube

Triplicate staff writer

A public hearing to determine the difference between advertising and art – at least within city limits – will take place in two weeks.

The Crescent City Council Monday decided to set a hearing on July 16 to determine the fate of the Remax Coastal Redwoods painting on 1000 block of Ninth Street. Currently, the painting depicts Aleutian Geese flying over a coastal scene toward a large red, white and blue Remax hot-air balloon.

"We don't want to see signs everywhere on walls," City Planner Will Caplinger said. "We want art."

However, Remax co-owner Casie Walthers said she finds the painting to be artistic and a beautifying addition to the city's landscape.

"We'd just like to keep it up because we think it's beautiful ... and we spent money on it," Walthers said. "We don't feel it's an eye sore."

At issue is whether the Remax painting is a classified as a mural or a sign under the city's municipal code and general plan.

Crescent City's General Plan, which contains the city's developmental policies, states that murals must consist of one of three elements: the city's history, sea coast village themes or redwood themes. Advertisements and other commercial messaging are considered signs.

"That (the Remax painting) is a form of sign clutter," Caplinger said. "There's too much commercial messaging going on."

The Remax painting also is not on Remax's property, Caplinger said. The company is renting the wall space, and municipal code only allows signs on a business' premises. However, he said if the painting was a mural without the Remax balloon, it could be on that wall.

"Cities can regulate commercial speech and art," Caplinger said. "They want to clearly separate art and commerce."

Otherwise, he said, businesses all over town would start painting signs advertising their business under the guise of art.

Walthers said she hopes that Remax and the city can come to a compromise over the painting and what is in it.

"Ultimately, we would like to keep the whole thing," Walthers said. "We really just don't want to take the hot-air balloon down as well."

Previously, the city said the painting could remain on the building if the Remax balloon and other related text was removed, thus leaving a mural with only the Aleutian Geese and the coastline. However, Walthers said she hopes Remax simply has to remove the wording on the balloon and the other text on the painting.

"It's not a logo without the name on it, and it's not even the proper coloring for the Remax balloon," Walthers said. "We're just hoping that we can get a little bit of credit for beautifying the community."

If the council decides at the public hearing not to allow the mural, she said, Remax will probably make the changes necessary to keep the painting on the wall.

"Basically, the choice would be to paint the whole wall over or to have the artist come in and remove the hot air balloon," Walthers said. "We want to keep the community beautiful and if we have to take a hit to do it that's fine."

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