','subtitle>',$line); echo $line; $line = "\n"; } else if (strstr($line, '','updated>',$line); } else if (strstr($line, '','published>',$line); } else if (strstr($line, ' Impractical Proposals <br> Santa Monica: 2004.09


Murals on Ocean Park

Before we had the chance to thank the Santa Monica city staff for finally cleaning up the artworks under the Fourth Street overpass on Ocean Park Boulevard -- and before the restorers could provide the paintings with protective sheathing, both works were attacked anew by taggers.

It will be a shame if again this situation is left unaddressed for ages, as it was until the city's recent effort. Leaving a couple of tags unchallenged on these murals resulted the last time in an explosion of activity that included not only dozens of assaults on the pieces themselves, but also in the vandalization of homes, walls, sidewalks, cars and storefronts throughout the neighborhood.

Already, on the murals themselves, the situation is worse than it was before the cleanup. The three or four scripts of a month ago have been joined by a dozen more, including three the size of golf carts that will be very difficult and expensive to repair. Together, these calamities might as well be an advertising billboard announcing that the neighborhood is ripe for vandalizing.

Someone -- the city, the Main Street Merchants, OPCO, art activists, this newspaper -- should take up the cause of these murals before it's too late. The work on the north side, depicting the escape of the horses from the carousel on the Santa Monica Pier, is a treasure that especially deserves protection. Let's turn photographs of the new tags into wanted posters, offer a cash reward for turning the perpetrators in. And when the little monsters responsible for these desecrations are finally caught, let's hold them -- and their parents -- responsible for the cost of restoration.Appeared as a letter to the editor in the Santa Monica Daily Press, also inspiring the paper to run a front page picture of the mural graffiti earlier the same week. (For these and other comments on the issue, visit SM Daily Press, June 26-27, 2004).