Some people say it's easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission. 

But Jana'e Hulsey, owner of The Apricot Door, may not be so sure after this week.

An art mural Hulsey commissioned to have painted on a cinder block wall outside her new salon — without first obtaining permission from the company that manages the rental property on Rosedale Highway — put her a bit sideways with the owner of the company that oversees the property.

"I really hoped it would bring some positive attention and color to this area," she said of the older commercial zone west of Calloway Drive.

After styling hair for 17 years, last year Hulsey was ready for something different. She moved into the building at 9925 Rosedale and began transforming the interior and exterior. A giant apricot-colored door stands out in front of the salon, which also doubles as home for her and her two sons.

She wanted this salon to be different, a reflection of her unique style, supplemented by the creativity of her friends, including Jocelyn Dimaya, who consults in the areas of creative design and branding, and Beth Cheney, a high school teacher and artist who loves painting murals at Bakersfield businesses.

"I watched Jana'e come to this place and pour herself into it," Dimaya said. "The transformation has been extraordinary."

Although murals and other outdoor art have been making appearances around Bakersfield for some time — especially in the downtown business district — Rosedale has been slow to embrace public art, Hulsey said.

So when she looked at the not very attractive cinder block wall at the property line, the wheels started turning.

"I saw it as a blank canvas," Hulsey said of the wall.

But before Chaney could begin painting, it was determined the cinder block required renovation. In all he project came in at upwards of $3,000, she said.

Expensive? Yes. Worth it? In Hulsey’s mind, absolutely.

Cheney worked two weekends on the mural before Raymond Dobbs, of Dobbs Property Management, caught sight of it.

"I drove by Sunday," Dobbs said. "I thought somebody had tagged the wall."

When he learned it was a mural commissioned by the building's tenant, he decided Hulsey would need to pony up a deposit of $1,500 to cover the cost of sandblasting should Hulsey leave the location.

Permission must be obtained before a tenant can make such visible changes to the property.

"It's all in black and white. It's in the contract," he said. "You can't do that."

But after speaking with the owner, it was decided the deposit would be waived.

"The owner, he's willing to bend a little," Dobbs said.

Commercial property broker Duane Keathley, who has no connection to the property in question, was kind enough to provide some perspective in these matters.

There are often layers of oversight when dealing with a commercial property, he said. First, there's the owner or property manager. But there's also the governing entity, whether it be the city of Bakersfield or the county of Kern.

A mural might be viewed as public art, but it might also be categorized as "signage."

"The tenant often wants as much signage as possible," Keathley said. "But you're regulated in how much signage you can have."

In the end, you're better off asking permission, he advised.

For Hulsey, her business is small and mostly a one-woman operation — but with a little help from her friends, she believes it could be a dream come true.

Driven by energy, passion and a desire to truly contribute to the community she is a part of, Hulsey knows that by pushing boundaries, sometimes business owners can get things done that might otherwise be routed through a bureaucracy.

Or require permission.

But when she learned Tuesday that the requirement for a deposit would be waived, the stress began to ease.

"Thank you," she said. "This gives me so much peace."

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

(13) comments


it looks nice.....I vote aye...its nice that someone painted that ugly grey cinderblock wall.....they need to paint a dumpster and trash that..... a mural is signage rule......


"It's all in black and white. It's in the contract," he said. "You can't do that." (?)

Please, will someone come forth with the actual language and references in that "contract" for us to read (entirety in context).

Obviously, there are contingencies as with all 'agreements' that cover such appropriate 'advertising, restorations and enhancements' to properties under lease to commercial tenants.

We all would like to know the specifics . . . as perhaps the property owner and/or manager . . . of which have now been made aware . . . to ameliorate and overcome such controversies.

This might be good for community education . . . eh?

All Star

Why would the landlord/tenent involved release their contract? Just for your entertainment?


This is beautiful art work, but this is also signage!!! The business is a HAIR SALON. The art work clear focuses on OUT OF CONTROL HAIR. I would estimate that 70% of the art work is wild flowing HAIR. How is that not signage? Since this artistic signage is viewable from the highway, and it's not to code, it should be removed per city sign ordinances. The city charges about $5000 for a sign permit because signs have engineering and line-of-sight/distraction requirements. Nobody wants to pay that much for a sign permit, so the next thing you know the tractor store down the street will paint the side of their building or wall with a huge tractor that they also happen to sell. The plumbing company will paint a huge toilet on the side of their building because they specialize in toilets. The butcher shop will have meat carcasses and sausages hanging in a mural on the side of their block wall downtown and on and on it goes. This is why this particular sign cannot be allowed to stay. If it was back further on the property, it wouldn't be signage. If it was a mural of a landscape of trees and flowers it wouldn't be signage.

All Star

Why are you even bringing up the city sign ordinance? This business is located in the county. Irrelevant.

Take action Now

Anytime you want to alter a “rental” property, you need permission from the property owner. It’s sad that people who have a great talent can’t express their ideas, but you’ll always have someone who will come along and graffiti beauty and make it a beast. After all we humans do it everyday by polluting the world we live in. Someday Mother Nature will take it away from us.

She Dee

The unfortunate fact of the matter (in my view), would be that if every small business decided to follow in this woman's footsteps, the town would once again start to look like a mess & the good artwork would get lost in the visual madness of excessive signage. As a previous business owner in Bakersfield, I didn't like the rules for signs, but I obeyed them. It's a little thing that could become a nuisance if it catches on. Somewhat like a can of worms...Just sayin'!

Comment deleted.
She Dee

I had to do an address search to get a look at the place & I didn't see a block wall, so I'm assuming it's a replacement wall. Murals used to be signage. Perhaps that has changed too. I don't know why this was a story to begin with. Who called the media first & why? It never pays to upset a landlord with things of this nature. Now the public knows she lives there with her 2 kids. She should have thought about that prior to the photo op.


The block wall has been there for years. The mural is on the interior side, facing the house. The viewable angle from the street is minuscule. It’s a mural, not considered signage. Nor has it ever been considered signage. There are all sorts of buildings around town with murals on them. The Mark has a mural on the south side. There is a huge one the city commissioned downtown as well. Loll around, they are all over downtown. This is the first in Rosedale, trying to bring some culture and interest to the area — at a commercial building that has been in terrible shape and an eyesore for years! If you’re unfamiliar with the location, and care enough to post a comment, perhaps you should drive by it to see for yourself instead of posting factually incorrect comments.

As for the owners — they don’t care. They have been happy with all the improvements the renter has performed for them, adding massive value to the property. It was the property manager that started this all on his own — without the owner’s knowledge. Have you ever heard of a property manager collecting a deposit of any kind without the owner’s knowledge? I sure haven’t.

And as for the renter having a story about her business and efforts — that’s her goal, to make a name for her business. And why is the fact that the story indicates it is a live/work space for her with her kids anything to worry about? I’m pretty sure everyone with kids lives in a home and if someone wants to find your address, it is not difficult at all. If I knew your name I could come knock on your door within an hour. Maybe you need to worry about yourself more than someone trying to start and run her business as she sees fit.

She Dee

I think your last sentence is the key to this issue at hand. No one who owns a business gets to do things "as they see fit"....they must follow codes & regulations if they want to operate any type of business.


Actually, there is case law that states murals promoting a business is considered signage, which this mural does in this case. County ordinance is vague and does not make this sign illegal in any way, unless the property owner doesn’t approve of it and then it is considered graffiti. And in no way does this mural/sign add “massive” value to the property, so I am not sure what your purpose was for saying it, but it is not true by any stretch.

All Star

That house was an Asian "massage parlor" until it was raided for prostitution about a year ago.


So, I guess one can say the new business now has happy split-endings? Get it? Hair salon and split-ends? I crack myself up!

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