Art or illegal structure?

The city of San Diego has given a two-week extension to the La Jolla man who was ordered to take down his front yard art installation, which officials declared an unpermitted structure and ordered torn down.

The 8-foot by 10-foot, hut-shaped sculpture is called "In Out" and is made out of concrete, metal, glass and other materials in vivid shades of pinks, purples and turquoise. Nasser Pirasteh was ordered to move it by May 6, but he said he was granted a two-week extension due to the death of his mother-in-law.

Since the city's order, the wall around his yard, on the well-trafficked corner of Nautilus Street and Avenida Manaña, has become filled with words of support. In markers and pastels and in many cases what looked like crayon, more than 120 messages cover the wall that runs along the sidewalk.

"You are nice and I like your art," said one. "Homes like this inspire passion, love, hope and make me want to dance" said another. A third, "Art makes life beautiful."

Others scrawled "Don't destroy it!" and "Please let it stay."

The words, many obviously written by children, with hearts and rainbows and flowers and suns and happy faces and drawing of dogs and cats and even aliens, are accompanied by whimsical drawings as fanciful as the sculpture, which is called "In Out."

"I love this," said Pirasteh as he swept his arm across the view. "Look at all these friends."

Pirasteh said the messages began to spontaneously appear after he put out a cardboard sign pasted with newspaper articles about him, the five-page notice from the city and a letter that began "Dear friends." It goes on to say that the sculpture is an art installation only, and is not, and has never been a building.

The "civil penalty notice and order" stated that the homeowner is in violation of seven sections of San Diego municipal code involving the construction of an accessory structure in his front yard that he did not have a permit to build. "You are hereby ordered," it read, to "remove the unpermitted structure." It went on to say that failure to comply will result in penalties that "may be assessed at a daily rate not to exceed $2,500 per day violation; not to exceed a total maximum of $250,000 per parcel of structure for any related series of violations."

"He definitely has the right to appeal," said city of San Diego spokesman Anthony Santacroce. However, he added, "The stance of the city has not changed. As far as we're concerned it's a structure." Furthermore, municipal codes prohibit its development in a front yard.

"The city is not my enemy," Pirasteh said. "I never felt any bad feelings about this, people are just doing their jobs."

Pirasteh said he does not know yet what he is going to do when the new deadline arrives.

"If this were a building and it violated the code then it should be taken down," he said. "But art lifts all of us up and should stand. And this is art."

Santacroce said that if Pirasteh is not in compliance once the deadline passes, the fines will begin.

debbi.baker@sduniontribune.com, (619) 293-1710, @Debbi_Baker

Source: DiscoverSD

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