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Council OK’s Uncovering of Houlihan’s Image on Arts Alive Banners

The 4-1 vote came after much public outcry.

Story Update: As of 1 p.m. Thursday, applicant Danny Salzhandler submitted a new banner application and it was approved by the city. At press time, Salzhandler was expected to remove the stickers from the Arts Alive banners the same day.

The along Coast Highway 101 will soon bear the portrait of

Houlihan’s image is currently covered with vinyl stickers—but in a 4 to 1 vote with Encinitas Deputy Mayor Kristin Gaspar opposed, City Council voted Wednesday to allow those stickers to be removed through the request of the applicant, Danny Salzhandler of the Artists’ 101 Colony.  

The Artists’ 101 Colony puts the , and after from endometrial cancer, the group decided to honor her because she was a City Manager Gus Vina said Houlihan’s portrait was a political image and therefore did not comply with the city’s code about pubic banners—and though no permit application was ever formally denied, that feedback prompted Salzhandler to retract his original application and submit a new application with a banner that had Houlihan’s image covered.

Now that City Council has given the OK, Salzhandler can submit another application requesting that Houlihan’s image be revealed as originally intended and he is guaranteed an approval. During Wednesday’s meeting, Vina said that approval could be granted the same day Salzhandler submits his application.

Wednesday's vote was a victory for many of Houlihan’s supporters, including her widower Ian Thompson, who on the grounds of a First Amendment violation.

“The banner tribute is a directed toward a person who actively supported the arts in Encinitas—pure and simple,” he told Council. “It was never designed as a political message.”

Eight speakers echoed those thoughts, with some stating that even though they did not always agree with Houlihan’s viewpoints, they felt she deserved to be honored publically this way.

Gaspar said she agreed that Houlihan deserves to be honored and took no issue with her image on the banners, but said she could not support the motion because the process that the city has in place was not followed. She said under the city’s process, Salzhandler could have moved forward with his original application, which included Houlihan’s image—but instead he chose to withdraw it based on the City Manager’s feedback. Gaspar said that it was Council’s job to focus on whether or not the city’s current process was followed or not.

"As decision makers, oftentimes we have to strip the emotion out of decision making," Gaspar said. "We have to strip this issue down and recognize that a process was not followed."

Encinitas Councilwoman Teresa Barth said she felt the issue was not so black and white.

“There are times when process has to be superseded by compassion,” she said. “That’s was something Maggie always said: ‘There’s always time for compassion.’ There was no compassion shown in this process and that is what I find offensive. This is a person we’re talking about, not a process.”

Councilman Mark Muir, who made the motion to remove the stickers, said he considered Houlihan a friend and “likes the idea of honoring Maggie and doesn’t like the idea of going to court.” As part of his motion Muir also said the language of the city code should also be rewritten so it is not so vague, and so that it allows for more freedom of speech. As a result, no new banner applications will be accepted until that is done. 

The other sides of the depict artwork by local artists, and are auctioned off every year to raise money for the group. The banners have been on display since February, and will remain on display until mid-May.

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laurie michaels April 12, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Thank you Mark Muir for being brave and Independant!
Chris April 12, 2012 at 04:06 PM
She said under the city’s process, Salzhandler could have moved forward with his original application, which included Houlihan’s image—but instead he chose to withdraw it based on the City Manager’s feedback. Gaspar said that it was Council’s job to focus on whether or not the city’s current process was followed or not. Saltzhandler was told that the banners needed to be altered, (omit Houlihan image), in order to be displayed. This was as formal a rejection of a banner permit as it gets. For Gaspar or Stocks to indicate that the permit was not rejected is not factual. All of those involved with the Arts Alive Banner program know that it has been Stocks that has directed the rejection of the banners with Houlihan's image.And he had the city reject the park permit when friends, citizens and family wanted to honor her at a memorial service at Cottonwood Park. They held the memorial without a permit. The actions are not honorable and not telling the truth about it makes is more dishonorable. And Gaspar is continuing her very successful effort to show that all of her campaign promises of being a unifier were fanciful.
S. Daly April 12, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Really? He is up for re-election. What did you expect? His so called "bravery and independence" is really smoke and mirrors. Barth saw it for what it was...... a stalling tactic. It was only after some testy conversation that he tried to turn it into a positive for himself. Sorry. I am not buying it. Too well versed in the art of deception to fall for his move. It started off well orchestrated. Jerome Stocks new what was happening and played a part in helping him along. Watch the footage. A poorly written play. The credit goes to Barth for calling them out on their strategy.
Lynn Marr April 12, 2012 at 08:09 PM
"As a result, no new banner applications will be accepted until that is done." That is improper, not legal. Actually, our sign ordinance law was recently updated and revised. The problem wasn't in the language, but in the "unbridled discretion," used by public officers, including current mayor Jerome Stocks, through our unelected City Attorney's advising new city manager, Gus Vina. Nowhere is "political speech" or political figures mentioned in our sign ordinance. To specifically disallow that would be Unconstitutional. Current Encinitas Municipal Code should not be suspended or invalidated without a full staff report and a new ordinance being adopted, after a second reading. Does the Planning & Building Dept. refuse to accept new applications when building code is being updated, amended or revised? Once again our unelected City Attorney, Glenn Sabine, who serves at the pleasure of Council Majority is not giving good advice. We are grateful that the blue vinyl stickers can now be removed. Kristin Gaspar was incorrect here. The process was followed. The applicant was told his application was unacceptable as originally submitted. The sticker was placed so that the art banners could be installed pending further discussion of the Constitutional issues involved. Council discussion only happened after public outcry and threats of litigation. Meanwhile, the better choice was to first install the banners, convincing the City of its abuse of discretion, afterwards.
juerosteve April 14, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Sounds like a damage control drill went into effect.Sorry Jerome you and your acrimonious scheming cronies are done here .I guess they think a little eleventh hour posturing will erase years of misconduct,not going to happen.

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