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ARTery tree mural survives city scrutiny 

After a permit denial and two months of heated debate, the Atascadero City Council voted 4-0 on Aug. 14 to allow the ARTery to keep its tree mural as is.

The mural has been a source of contention after ARTery owners painted the west-facing wall of the business before obtaining a city permit.

Council member Tom O’Malley wasn’t at the meeting. The decision was heavily influenced by local attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu, who volunteered his services and argued that murals are protected by the Constitution as free speech.

“Hopefully it’s a win-win situation for everybody,” Mayor Bob Kelley told New Times. “They get to keep their mural, and we learned a little something about constitutional law.”

Kelley said the city plans to revisit its sign ordinance and come up with a fair, clear rule for murals that will circumvent any confusion in the future.

ARTery owners Bill Arkfeld and Bobbi Nunez could not be reached as of press time, but a comment on their Facebook page read simply: “Victory!!!... celebrating @Molly Pitcher now… .”

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