Mural will stay |

Mural will stay

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

A colorful mural along Highway 50 is not going anywhere.

At first, property owner Steve Leman said he wanted the large cinder block painting off his land because it could fall, hurt someone and become a liability. But last week he agreed to donate it back to the group that commissioned it and pay $6,000 to help secure it with a better supports.

The painting faces the eastbound lane of 50 just west of Carson Avenue. It depicts the Sierra House, a roadhouse that existed along Pioneer Trail in the 1860s.

Heritage Murals commissioned Canadian artist Mike Svob to do the work in 1998 for about $10,000. The mural wall had been supported by a motel, but Leman had that building demolished shortly after he bought the property in February.

Heritage installed temporary steel support beams to alleviate Leman’s concerns and provide involved parties more time to resolve the problem.

“The mural is going to stay,” Leman said. “If it doesn’t stay, it won’t be because of me.”

Leman said he was satisfied with the agreement because Heritage has promised to have support work for the wall done before the end of the grading season on Oct. 15. The city and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency have also agreed to let him begin to level and revegetate the property he owns not affected by the mural.

“I felt stymied,” Leman said. “I felt I couldn’t proceed with the wall there. At least now they are allowing me to complete the restoration of the site.”

A contractor hired by the South Tahoe Public Utility District is storing dirt and equipment on the property. Leman said it will be gone in about a week and revegetation, including grass seed and a sprinkler system, will follow. By next summer, Leman said he hopes to have a 2,500-square foot office under construction at the site.

Phylise Walker, chairwoman of Heritage Murals, hired M.J. Bogatin, an Oakland attorney specializing in public art, to negotiate the agreement. Leman said working with Bogatin helped to resolve the situation.

“We are just really pleased this whole thing’s been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction,” Walker said.

Duane Wallace, executive director at the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, said the end result is a “win-win” because of Leman’s actions.

“Not only did he donate the wall to the historical society, but he also donated a sizable sum to the program,” Wallace said. “The chamber as a member of the Heritage Mural Program certainly appreciates how this turned out. There is even some talk of putting a mural on the other side.”

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or at

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