Heard a blurb about this story on NPR this morning, and went to find the full scoop. Via NY Daily News:
Residents grow attached to cute hand-painted gnomes who popped up on utility poles in Oakland, Calif.
Oakland, Calif.’s Pacific Gas & Electric Co. wanted to get rid of the gnome paintings that an anonymous artist placed around the city. But residents don’t want to say goodbye to the friendly neighborhood creatures.
Small paintings of gnomes that have popped up on
utility poles have become a community sensation in Oakland, prompting
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to say Tuesday that it will keep them in
place for now.
The hand-painted portraits on 6-inch blocks of wood began going up last
year in an apparent effort to brighten up the blue-collar California
city. There are currently more than 2,000 of the images on utility
poles, with many screwed to the bases.
The gnomes have red hats, white beards and brown shoes. Some of the images contain a mushroom.
Word that PG&E planned to remove the paintings sparked an
outpouring of support from residents who said the gnomes add character
to the city.
PG&E spokesman Jason King
planned to meet Tuesday with the artist, who requested to remain
anonymous, and a member of the City Council. The utility hopes to
eventually relocate the gnome paintings from the poles to other spots in
the same neighborhoods.
"We've received a lot of feedback from residents who love the gnomes,"
King told The Associated Press. "We're looking for solutions. We'll keep
them where people can enjoy them."
King said PG&E did not want to encourage such installations,
explaining a proliferation of such images could cause damage or make it
difficult for crews to access the poles.