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Calling for Street Mural Applications!


In 2010, a whimsical turtle design took shape in the intersection of Interlake Avenue N and N 41st Street. At least 50 neighbors lent a hand to the work effort. Local bloggers kept journal and photo updates of the project as it progressed.

Spring is on the way…and starting the process for a painting a Painted Intersection or Street Mural in your neighborhood should be too!  A street mural can be a great community builder. While it is not considered a traffic calming device, a mural can beautify your neighborhood and may an indirect impact on traffic speeds by showing drivers that this is a neighborhood where the residents take pride and a sense of ownership of the street thereby encouraging drivers to be respectful of the people who live in the area. 

Summer and early fall are the best times to paint the street, but residents should start the process by late April. This is because the process to proceed with a project can take up to three months.   Why so long?  It’s a step-by-step process involving design refinement, neighborhood support and approval through a petition process, and SDOT’s Street Use department providing approval, coordination, and permitting.

In short, a neighborhood must first pick a location. This can be a mid-block location on a  non-arterial  street or non-arterial intersection.  SDOT must review the location and make sure a street mural or painted intersection is feasible, making sure there are no existing traffic control devices nearby, such as stop signs, crosswalk, or traffic circles. Once approved, residents can work on a design for the intersection, creating a “to-scale” drawing. When complete, residents can submit the to-scale drawing for approval. Getting the design approved can take up to two weeks.  If the design is rejected by SDOT, it must be reworked,  which could add another two weeks for review once submitted a second time.

The design must be in the driving area and can not extend to the gutter or sidewalk.  It should not be culturally insensitive, mimic actual traffic pavement markings, advertise or include a logo, or confuse drivers – such as a drawing of a hole in the street.  The design should be simple enough that all the neighbors can help paint it – by filling in the outlines in much the same way as painting by the numbers.  It must  be completed in two days’ time, a Saturday and Sunday.

Critical to the process is showing neighborhood support through a petition process.   Even though we only require 60% of residents in the petition area (the petition area is determined by the location), those directly affected by the mural must be part of the 60% (for example, if you are proposing a street mural in the intersection, the residents who live on the corners must sign the petition).  At least a month to two months should be allowed for the petition process (there can be delays if neighbors are out of town or if there is disagreement over the design). In addition to the design, approval, and petition process, time is needed to put a traffic control plan for the project. 

Funding for this type of project is available through Department of Neighborhood’s Neighborhood Matching Fund Program.  This program is further explained on our web page

You can find all the specific details on Painted Intersection or Street Murals on our website under the Client Assistance Memo (CAM) 2506:  Now’s your chance to be creative and make your neighborhood a little more friendly and livable!