Half Moon Bay has approved its first public art policy to guide how the city will manage funding, submission, evaluation and removal of public art, as the city looks at maintaining and removing several art pieces.
The City Council unanimously approved a resolution of the policy at its Dec. 7 meeting following community outreach. Issues of funding, commission, submission, evaluation, installation, approval, maintenance and removal of art are specified in the plan. The new policy will clarify what artwork is placed on public property and provide guidance for financial help for the maintenance and acquisition of artwork. The city previously had no public art policy, which led to art being put up and selected haphazardly over the years, with no plan or process for maintenance or changes.
The city has made several policy improvements to its art policy in the past year. In April, the city adopted a Public Art Deaccessioning Policy to address removing or relocating art. The city in August temporarily removed the Half Moon Gateway Sculpture at the south end of Main Street and Highway One in Half Moon Bay, with plans to use the new policy to direct the future placement of the art piece. Construction on the Highway 1 area near the statue would limit visibility approaching Half Moon Bay and cause area redevelopment, necessitating its removal.
The new policy will also help address the potential removal of art pieces and statues in Carter Park and Kitty Fernandez Park.
The Half Moon Bay Parks and Recreation Commission will run the Public Art Program in the city and make art recommendations to the council. Additional committees may provide oversight if needed. Artists will go through a rigorous process for application submission and include references, letters of interest, presentations of work and reviews from various government bodies. Site section policy will be based on location, theme, relevance to the community, and compatibility. The art installation is the artist’s or sponsor organization’s responsibility, while routine maintenance will be the city’s job. The city is establishing a fund for public art projects. A public art fund will hold contributions made by the City Council, gifts, grants, donations and art revenue. The funding will be used for materials, artist fees, art installation and various related needs. The city will also begin keeping records of public art.
The Black Lives Matter mural displayed on the Half Moon Bay City Hall building would fall into the category of public art. However, it would be subject to different rules because of the City Council resolution that governs the piece of art, Assistant City Manager Matthew Chidester said. The City Council in August 2020 unanimously approved the 7-foot-by-10-foot mural on the side of the building facing the parking lot after community members proposed the art. The mural is considered temporary, with no timeline for how long it will be up.
“This policy wouldn’t necessarily apply to that specific piece of artwork,” Chidester said.