The local toy store chain Creative Kidstuff wants to build two, 18-foot-tall cartoon cats in front of its Grand Ave. store in St. Paul. The company calls them sculptures. The city zoning department calls them signs, and at 225 square feet they're almost three times the size allowed. What would you call them?

Creative Kidstuff
(Image Courtesy of Architectural Alliance)

The City of Minneapolis found this mural in violation of its zoning code in 2010. The painting was part of a used car lot on Lake St. (now closed) and the city code defines a mural as "A work of graphic art painted on a building wall, which contains no commercial advertising or logos, and which does not serve to advertise or promote any business, product, activity, service, interest or entertainment." It ordered the offending portions painted over. Did Minneapolis make the right call?

Car lot mural
(Image Courtesy of Gary Schiff)

Pabst Brewing Co. paid local artists John Grider and Mike Fitzsimmons to paint this image on the side of the 1029 Bar in Northeast Minneapolis earlier this year. Council Member Gary Schiff says it appears to violate the city's zoning code, and he'd like to see the code re-written so murals can feature products. Sound like a good idea?

Squirrel Mural
(MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson)

Don't worry. No one's talking about painting over the iconic, 40-year-old musical score on the old Schmitt Music Building in Minneapolis. But if Bob Schmitt wanted to do the same thing today, he'd probably be breaking the law. Sound like a good law?

Schmitt music mural
(MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson)

This mural is on the side of a Whole Foods store in St. Paul. But if it were in Minneapolis, it would probably run afoul of the city's zoning rules, because it depicts fruits and vegetables -- products sold inside the store. Should St. Paul be as strict about murals as Minneapolis?

Whole foods mural
(MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson)