SLO monuments and sculptures now will represent ideas, not people

Posted at 7:17 PM, Jul 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-18 22:17:52-04

The City of San Luis Obispo will no longer honor people by installing monuments of them.

Mayor Heidi Harmon says the city didn’t have a set policy in place for guidance in regards to the design of monuments and sculptures. That changed this past Tuesday.

“Monuments have become very controversial and rightfully so,” Harmon said. “They have created a lot of contentiousness and at times even violence in communities about keeping them up, putting them up, taking them down, that whole conversation.”

That conversation is what prompted the City of San Luis Obispo to no longer allow recognizable individuals to be honored in the form of monuments and statues. Instead, statues will represent ideas or ideals.

Harmon adds that both locally and nationally, monuments have been points of conflict within communities due to the social and historical implications they carry.

Local artist Paula Zima created the grizzly bear sculpture in Mission Plaza and was planning to create a sculpture of President Theodore Roosevelt that would be installed at Mitchell Park. Those plans have come to a halt.

“To me it is short-sighted, it is destroying history,” Zima said. “I think the history should be expanded around and let other people tell their stories. The idea of saying, ‘well, no more recognizable beings in San Luis Obispo County’ to me doesn’t even feel right.”

Zima said she is in the process of brainstorming other ideas and as of now there are no current plans to take down or remove monuments in the city.

Those interested in submitting an inclusive and diverse public art project idea should contact the Parks and Rec Department for consideration.