CARDIFF-BY-THE-SEA — A local artist claims his work is being censored by the property manager who contracted him to paint a mural last year.
Local artist Kevin Anderson was taken aback when he saw one of his murals being painted over at the 2100 block of San Elijo Avenue last week. The 6-foot-by-5-foot portrayal of people playing music during sunset at the end of the small strip mall housing a coin-operated laundry, liquor store, sandwich shop and beach clothing store has been uncontroversial until now.
“When I asked the guy what was going on he said the owner hired him to paint over (the mural),” Anderson said. He said he later learned that the property manager, Mike Paeske, wanted the people removed from the mural. “He said he didn’t want the homeless people in the mural,” Anderson said.
Paeske, vice president of San Diego-based CFI, said he wasn’t aware that the people depicted in the mural were area transients until sheriff’s deputies alerted him. “We’ve had numerous complaints at the property of vandalism, public drunkenness, fighting, you name it,” he said. “About three weeks ago, the sheriffs asked me to remove the mural because some of the main offenders were depicted on it.”
Anderson acknowledges that some of the characters in his art are homeless people. “Nobody would know (they’re homeless),” he said. “They’re just people playing music at the beach.”
Sheriff’s deputy Dave DiCarlo said taking down the mural is part of an attempt to return the area to a safe, family-friendly environment. “We don’t want to ingratiate them (transients) to the neighborhood.” He said “memorializing” people who are known offenders of the law was tantamount to rewarding them.
DiCarlo said that a document containing names and pictures of previously arrested transients who are regulars in the area was also circulated among business owners. “We wanted people to be able to put a name with a face when they called us (to complain),” he said.
Anderson’s picture was also part of the so-called “California Mug Book.” He said that while he does know some of the homeless people in the area, he is a homeowner who has lived in the city for 25 years. “It makes me look like a criminal,” he said. “It’s tarnishing my reputation.”
DiCarlo said Anderson was included with the other transients purely for identification purposes. He said the efforts to step up patrols in the area and reduce harassment of business customers are for the community’s benefit. “I think it’s gone on too long,” he said.
Anderson said he hasn’t caused any trouble and is a reputable artist. Paeske agreed that negotiations with Anderson regarding the mural have been amicable. “I appreciate the professional manner Mr. Anderson has conducted himself with in this situation,” he said.
Paeske said that his company’s first priority is the safety and maintenance of the property. “We’re interested in operating the property in the best manner possible,” he said.