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Matching City Funds Approved to "Beautify" Murals in Santa Monica's Pico and Mid-City Areas
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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

January 12, 2017 -- A growing effort in Santa Monica to transform "blight into beauty" with murals painted on buildings often scarred by vandals got a helping hand Tuesday, with the City Council agreeing to provide $22,000 in matching grants for the Pico and Mid-City areas.

The money will be used to help finance the creation of more outside wall murals by Beautify Earth, a nonprofit group, on Pico Boulevard and in the Mid-City neighborhood, officials said.

For Mid-City Neighbors, the council agreed to allocate $12,000 in discretionary funds to be matched 4-to-1 with a contribution of $3,000.

The Pico Improvement Organization was granted $10,000, to be matched 1-to-1 with another $10,000.

Representatives said the murals already painted along streets in those areas have helped boost community pride and encourage more foot traffic, bicyclists (particularly in Mid-City) and revenue for businesses.

The artwork has also helped decrease gang tagging, they said.

In fact, the latest "Beautify Pico" map for self-guided tours of local murals is showing off Pico these days as a tourist destination, said Robert Kronovet, chairman of the Pico Improvement Organization.

"Pico businesses and residents love the positive impact that the murals have on the community," he said in a letter urging the council to help the mural project with Beautify Earth to go forward.

The group now has 12 murals on Pico, with three more ready to go as quickly as possible and another seven being readied over the next couple of months, he said.

Mid-City organizers, meanwhile, sought City funding for three new murals for crucial areas.

Colorado Boulevard has become the entry point to Santa Monica along the new Expo Light Rail Line, and Broadway now brings residents and visitors along the bike lane to the ocean, said Andrew Hoyt, vice president of Mid-City Neighbors, in an appearance before the council.

Another Mid City representative said in a letter to the council that his area urgently needs the City's help with its mural project.

The murals "completely transforms a visitor’s experience," said Stacy Dalgleish, president of Santa Monica Mid City Neighbors. "Mid-City desperately needs more of this forward thinking and beautification. These murals would be a perfect solution at a relatively very low cost investment."

Beautify Earth is a non-profit organization that is battling urban blight, in part, by “painting the world in color,” trying to re-create bland, worn or vandalized exterior walls as pieces of artwork. It has projects in a variety of communities in the City of Los Angeles as well as cities elsewhere.

The organization demonstrates "that when art becomes the norm in place of urban blight, the world is a happier, more colorful, and peaceful place," its website said.

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