"Great Morgani" announced his exit via Facebook.
Frank “Great Morgani” Lima, a street-performance staple in Downtown Santa Cruz for the last 17 years, has announced he will be retiring from playing his accordion in outrageous outfits on Pacific Avenue because of recent ordinances that regulate performing. Bubble magician Tom Noddy, fellow street performing veteran and a friend of Lima, says a police officer recently threatened the accordionist with a $300 ticket.
Lima made his farewell announcement on Facebook last night. “Rather than accept a hefty $300 ticket, or worse yet, spend a night in jail (in one of my costumes???), I will be quietly leaving the downtown scene,” he wrote.
City ordinances regulating where artists can perform have been on the books for years. But a recent update to the ordinance, passed last September, requires performers to keep 14 feet—previously 10 feet—from buildings, benches, street corners, kiosks, intersections, drinking fountains, public telephones, trash cans, art sculptures, ATM machines, vending carts and information and directory signs. The new rules also reduce the amount of space artists could take up from 18 square feet to 12, and forbid vendors from laying down blankets.
Noddy says Lima, who usually performed with his back to shops, was warned for standing too close to a building. That irks Noddy, who used to coordinate rules of informal rules of conduct for Santa Cruz street performers. Noddy says there’s no better place for a street performer than close too storefronts. Sometimes artists would try standing by the street, and that caused problems, too.
“If you have a good act like Morgani, there are crowds gathering in front to the show windows. So it’s not an advantage to the shop owners. So maybe you should have your street performers facing the open door? No! because then they’re singing into your open door,” Noddy says.
Morgani says he wants the situation to be handled civilly. “My main emphasis is that i want all of this to happen in a CALM and RESPECTFUL manner,” Lima wrote us via Facebook message.
Noddy hopes Lima’s announcment raises awareness about the ordinances.
“The cop’s not a bad guy. He was enforcing a law that’s on the books, but hopefully this time he picked the right guy, and this will get looked at,” Noddy says. “He’s completely in the right for enforcing this. The council is not.”