Who knew innocent images of dogs and sunflowers might have ulterior motives? Paintings of such are now being treated as illegal advertising for a residence in Kula. Officials with the County of Maui have asked homeowner Lisa Giesick to cover up the mural which runs along her fence, saying that the artwork is just a “sign” for her home business Ohana Pet Training. Two days ago, Giesick launched a petition on Change.org to save her mural, which has already attracted over a thousand signatures.
“The artwork was done by artist Alex Kizu,” Giesick writes in her petition, denying the art having commercial intentions. “The mural portrays my personal dogs, his dog, and two dogs belonging to friends.”
Originally, there wasn’t a problem. According to Giesick, an official with the county’s zoning office questioned Giesick about her fence and career around mid-June. Giesick says the county official at first found no issue with the mural since it was bereft of text. But apparently–again, according to Giesick–other officials overruled that finding and sent an email to Giesick on Monday, July 27, telling her that she must remove the mural.
“Our administrator has decided because you run your business out of your home that the painting on your fence is a sign,” states the email. “It will have to be altered or painted over.”
The sudden demand perplexed Giesick; she said that the mural was the work of an artist and friend, who shared her simple wish to commemorate their dogs. Giesick also said that it was her understanding the whole conundrum was “originally” the result of a single complaint.
A county spokesperson confirmed that. “We got a complaint from a neighborhood resident that this was a commercial billboard,” said Rod Antone, the county Communications Director. Antone added that no fines were involved, and only a warning was issued. He also said the Planning Department is currently reviewing the case.
The county code section which assesses appropriate home business sign usage is pretty vague. Section 19.67.030 of General Standards and Restrictions, paragraph F, states the following:
“Except for one ground sign or wall sign, as defined in section 16.13.030 of this code, not to exceed two square feet, there shall be no visible evidence of the home business, including, but not limited to, alterations to the exterior of the residence that change the character of the residence or neighborhood, exterior displays, or the outdoor storage of materials or equipment used by the home business. Ground signs shall not be permitted within fifteen feet of the front or side property line. Wall signs may be affixed to a fence at the entrance of the property on lots of two acres or more.”
The pictures of canines could be regarded as “visible evidence of the home business” since Giesick’s business is training animals, but the dogs in the mural are a part of her personal life and are not related to her work. As for now, Giesick’s petition needs 357 more names to reach its goal of 1,500 signatures.
To see Giesick’s mural petition, go to