A renaissance of sorts could be in the works for Palo Alto.
On Tuesday, the city council is slated to consider expanding a “percent for art” policy to include new residential projects of five units or more, as well as commercial projects that are upward of 10,000 square feet and cost at least $ 200,000 to build.
Developers would have to set aside 1 percent of a project’s estimated construction costs for public art, according to a report from the city manager’s office. The money would either be used for on-site art or be deposited into a special fund to pay for art elsewhere in the city.
The art would have to be approved by the city’s Public Arts Commission and be visible to the public at least 40 hours per week.
The report frames the expanded policy as a means for Palo Alto to cement its identity amid a regional development boom that is making it more and more difficult to tell cities apart.
“By implementing percent for art into our development process now, Palo Alto can ensure that we can preserve our cultural and artistic heritage and create new ways to express ourselves as a community,” the report said.
The expanded policy is expected to generate $ 2 million for public art over the next three years. Meanwhile, the existing policy, which requires 1 percent of capital improvement projects to be used for public art, is projected to produce just $ 150,000 in the same time period.
The report envisions setting aside $ 200,000 for management of the expanded policy but warns that additional staff may be needed.
Mayor Greg Scharff outlined public art as a goal in his state of the city address earlier this year.
“With landmark public art, we build our city’s identity and engage the public, which is the power of public art. It is important that new development in Palo Alto positively impact the look and feel of our city,” Scharff said in February. “Palo Alto as a great city deserves great art.”
The city council’s Policy and Services Committee was subsequently tasked with vetting an expanded policy. The four-person panel finished its work last month, voting unanimously to recommend adoption of the ordinance that council members are to review next week.
The city council is also expected to discuss whether to pursue a master plan for public art in Palo Alto. Such an effort would involve extensive community outreach, according to the report.
If passed, the expanded policy would result in noticeable changes throughout the city five years from now, according to the report. And in 10 to 15 years, public art would be “fully integrated into all areas of the city, from creative bike racks and wayfinding to destination artworks.”
“Palo Alto will be regarded for its innovation, its engaged community, its environmental commitment and its outstanding public art,” the report said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: The Palo Alto City Council is scheduled to discuss expanding its percent for art policy to include major residential and commercial projects.
WHEN: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Council Chambers, City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave.