Planning — Proposed code amendment by Planning Commission would allow murals in most parts of Newberg, taking after Portland code

In August, Climax Portable Machine and Welding Systems and George Fox University submitted a request to the Newberg City Council to consider allowing installation of large murals. After the planning commission considered the request at its Oct. 10 meeting, a proposed code amendment is being sent to the City Coun­cil for consideration.

The recommendation would allow for “Original Art” murals to remain without alterations for three years — although the building owner could remove the mural at any time, but cannot replace the mural until the permit time expires. The murals cannot be more than six inches from the plane of the wall and there are limitations on placement in the C-3 Central Business District zone, Civic Corridor zone and route of the Newberg-Dundee bypass. No compensation can be received for murals.

Cathy Stuhr, chairwoman of the planning commission, said there were four proposed changes to the draft ordinance presented to the Planning Commission.

These changes include: decreasing the period of time that prevented changes to a mural from five years to three years, deleting a section that tied landscaping code compliance to murals, change a section to prevent murals along the bypass until January 2017 — which Stuhr said at that point application to the bypass would be re-evaluated — and modifying a section to prevent murals on street-facing buildings on First Street and Howard Street in the C-3 zone.

She said although there was a significant amount of legal precedent to draw from, the code is largely based on Portland’s code, approved in 2009.

“The city of Portland figured out a way to essentially prevent murals from becoming advertisements by preventing frequent updates to the murals, requiring that the murals be hand painted or tiled for no monetary compensation, controlling the size of murals, and requiring public notice and review by an independent art organization,” she said. “The staff draft of the code amendment was largely based on Portland’s code and we made additional modifications to further meet our needs.”

She said this was not an easy topic to discuss because the First Amendment do not allow control of mural content.

“We can control what (Bar­ton Brier­ly, planning and build­ing dir­ector) referred to as ‘time and place’ — where the murals can go, when, for how long, etc.,” Stuhr said. “We were fully aware of the potential downsides of allowing murals in the city. However, we had confidence in the character of our city and citizens, I think, and decided to move forward believing that allowing murals would bring out the best in the city, not the worst.”

The city council will hear the recommendation at 7 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Public Safety Building.

For more information about the proposed changes, visit

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