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Thomas Sage has been making a living performing on Pacific Avenue for three years, but his didgeridoo doesn't fit into the space limitations of a new downtown ordinance.

Thomas Sage has been making a living performing on Pacific Avenue for three years, but his didgeridoo doesn't fit into the space limitations of a new downtown ordinance.

Thomas Sage has made his living playing music on Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz for the past three years, but beginning this week he doesn’t expect to be out there much, if at all, anymore. Sage plays the didgeridoo, an Indigenous Australian wind instrument that can measure as much as ten feet in length, emitting a deep bass sound, like an ethereal nighttime howl. When he plays, often on the sidewalk in front of the New Leaf grocery store downtown, large crowds gather and people can often be found dancing along to his up-tempo rhythms.

There are two reasons for Sage’s impending departure from downtown: For one, being a street performer in winter is really, really tough, he says. The other reason is Ordinance 2013-14, an amendment to section 5.43 of the city code that restricts the space allotted for “noncommercial use of city streets and sidewalks” (i.e. street performance) to 12 square feet per individual or group. Sage says the space it takes him to perform with his large instrument is outside the bounds of the new restrictions, which go into effect this week. In preparation, he picked up a new job as a baker. He has to wake up at three o’clock in the morning for his shift.

In addition to limiting a performer or artist’s space to 12 square feet, the ordinance requires that anyone with any sort of setup (called a “display device” in municipal code jargon) must be 12 feet from another display device and 14 feet from “protected features” downtown: any building, street corner, intersection, kiosk, drinking fountain, public telephone, bench, trash can, information or directory sign, ATM machine, vending cart, or public sculpture. Finally, the ordinance bans people from laying cloths on the sidewalk, a popular method for displaying jewelry and other artwork for sale—requiring instead a table or other freestanding structure.

The new ordinance is billed as a solution to the growing overcrowding of downtown streets, which has become more of an issue in the last two years, as the economy has begun to recover. And while street artists and business owners alike agree that Pacific Avenue sidewalks have become crowded—some have compared it to a flea market—the ordinance makes illegal some of Santa Cruz’s most popular street attractions, raising questions about the direction of downtown.

 

Street Justice

To understand the future implications of the ordinance, it is necessary to first look to the past. Talk of regulating downtown street artists began in 1980, when sidewalks were filled with acts like Artis the Spoonman, who went on to play with Frank Zappa and Soundgarden; the Flying Karamazov Brothers, whose juggling and comedy show started on Pacific Ave. and eventually made it to Broadway; and Tom Noddy, whose bubble blowing art performances also began on Pacific. Noddy has gone on to appear on the Late Show with David Letterman and continues to pack auditoriums around the globe with his show, “Bubble Magic.”

At that time, there was talk of outright banning street performance on city sidewalks because of conflicts between business owners and performers. But instead of passing legislation, the city council worked alongside the police force, the Downtown Neighbors’ Association, and a group of 35 street performers spearheaded by Noddy to create a document that was known as the Street Performing Voluntary Guidelines. The guidelines implored performers to do things like rotate locations each hour, refrain from blocking pedestrian traffic and setting up too close to other performers, and respect the city’s 10pm noise curfew. The guidelines were published and passed around to all performers, and Noddy now says the process “allowed us all to use common sense and try to keep petty disagreements from getting us all into court, or city council chambers.”

Politicians came and went, continuing to let the voluntary guidelines stand until 1994, when a new ordinance was passed that outlined restrictions on how far performers had to be from various features downtown such as curbs, drinking fountains, ATMs, etc. But the distance varied for each feature—10 feet from one, 12 feet from another—resulting in a confusing matrix that performers were simply unable to keep up with, making them reliant on police officers and downtown hosts to tell them where it was OK to set up.

Noddy says the 1994 ordinances went largely unenforced, with police and performers still using the voluntary guidelines. But in 2002, a petition circulated by downtown business owners led to a new round of downtown ordinances that further restricted street performers. Frustrated that they weren’t included in the decision-making process, Noddy and the performers withdrew the guidelines. Tension has existed, to varying degrees, ever since.

Steve Belcher, who was the police chief at the time, helped to create the guidelines, and now says he was satisfied with the rules they all agreed on. But when it came to implementing them, there were challenges.

“It puts a beat officer in a really tough position,” he says. “There was really no enforcement capability. You can imagine handing someone the list of rules and saying, ‘Will you please not do this?’ And they say, ‘I don’t care.’ What’s the poor copper gonna do? You really need something that’s codified and that’s easy to understand so everybody can be treated fairly.”

These days, even street performers themselves are not entirely opposed to some legislation. Nathaniel Wagner is a guitar player and singer who travels the country busking. On a Monday afternoon, he is arranging wildflowers on the sidewalk on Pacific Ave., in front of an overturned hat he has laid out out for donations. He has been in town for a week, and says he has been perpetually frustrated with “vagrant type people” who try to steal his money out of his hat. “It happened three times by three different people yesterday, and that was just an hour. But the hospitality [guides] were pretty good about it. They got them out of the way eventually,” he says. “I don’t have no problems really with the new ordinance, because of that kind of riff raff in general.”

The irony is the ordinance doesn’t really address “vagrant type people,” as Wagner calls them. There are problems downtown that most people—residents, visitors, business owners and street performers alike—can agree on, most having to do with panhandling, criminal behavior and methamphetamine addiction. But the new ordinance doesn’t tackle any of those issues. Instead, it focuses on limiting street performers, a longtime staple of downtown Santa Cruz.

 

Squaring Off

So how exactly did we end up with a law restricting street performers to a 12 square foot box? (For reference, that is about the space of a single card table.) Scott Collins, who is Assistant to the City Manager, created the proposal for the ordinance with Santa Cruz Redevelopment Manager Julie Hendee. Collins is adamant that the goal of the ordinance is not to drive away street performance, which he says is something that makes Santa Cruz special. He is quick to assert that ordinance does make allowance for larger acts at a couple locations downtown, but the performers would have to get a permit to take advantage.

“If you go to other downtowns, they don’t look anything like ours. Go to Los Gatos, go to Carmel, go to Monterey. We do a really good job of finding a good balance so people can demonstrate artistic skill and sell things that they’ve created themselves, and I do believe a lot of tourists enjoy that feature,” he says. “The balance just didn’t seem to be working…We were finding that [street artists and musicians] were laid out all next to each other so they’d take up almost a whole block.”

But is street performance still valued under the ordinance? Many performers are saying no, since the new rules make it impossible for bands with more than one member, or bands with a large instrument to play, meaning the end of such only-in-Santa-Cruz phenomena as piano sidewalk performances.

City Council insiders have suggested that the ordinance was originally intended to address only the blanket issue—street artists who display jewelry and other handmade goods for sale by laying a tapestry directly onto the sidewalk. There were complaints from business owners that it was those displays that took up too much space, and could potentially trip pedestrians.

Chip (who uses no last name), the Executive Director of the Downtown Association, says the Association did pass on concerns to city council about “the increase of stuff on the sidewalk,” and says the end goal his organization hoped for was a law requiring artists to display wares off of the ground, on tables or boxes.

“I have not been aware recently of the street musician culture being an issue for business downtown,” he adds. “Conversely, it is a benefit to downtown. I think it adds to the overall culture and environment that people like about downtown…People absolutely love the marimbas and bluegrass bands that are out there.”

Chip says he occasionally receives complaints about a group being too loud or needing to move, but that the issue is being managed well by simply talking to performers when a problem comes up.

 

Fast Tracked

The ordinance was passed hastily. The City Arts Commission was not even consulted before the ordinance came to council, and opposition from dozens of artists who came to city council meetings on Sept. 10 and Sept. 24 was unceremoniously ignored. Councilmember Cynthia Mathews publicly dismissed artists’ concerns that the ordinance limited their First Amendment rights to free speech as “disingenuous at best and, honestly, idiotic at worst.” (This, however, would appear to be contradicted by a 1979 US District Court ruling in Massachusetts which determined that street performance qualifies as free speech expression, and for business owners to regulate it is “unqualified censorship and just what the First Amendment forbids.”)

At the Sept. 24 city council meeting, councilmember Don Lane brought up the frequent sidewalk sales held by downtown merchants, in which racks of clothing and long cafeteria tables of goods literally do fill the sidewalks. “If we were really worried about the obstructions in the sidewalk, we wouldn’t allow this. But we do,” he told council. Vice Mayor Lynn Robinson was the only one who responded to his concerns, saying that sidewalk sales were different than street artists using the sidewalk because the sales are “not a willy-nilly everyday kind of experience.” In the end, Lane and councilmember Micah Posner voted against the ordinance and Robinson along with councilmembers David Terrazas, Pamela Comstock, Cynthia Mathews and Mayor Hilary Bryant voted for it.

“I understand for some people they feel like they might be getting squeezed out, and I guess we’ll have to discover if that’s truly the case,” Robinson added. But there is no trial period on this ordinance, and if and when people are indeed getting squeezed out, they have no recourse under the ordinance as written.

“I had hoped the council would slow down to just spend a little more time with some of the people in the community affected by the changes, and see if there’s a way to create some ordinances that wouldn’t ignore their concerns,” says Lane.

It’s hard to tell for certain why the ordinance was passed so quickly through council, without undergoing any revisions or input from public arts officials. Some suspect council members didn’t want to deal with another meeting filled with complaints from a hostile public, who frequently interrupted the September council meetings where the ordinance was discussed to boo or shout out of turn. Others suggest that the ordinance is too closely tied to the issue of public safety, which has become a sensitive subject in light of Santa Cruz’s crime wave last winter. With the growing influence of community groups like Take Back Santa Cruz on the electorate, some council members have expressed concern that hesitating to supporting any ordinance billed as a public safety measure would be a career-ending move.

Noddy says there is some historical context for this kind of law—one that more symbolically takes a stand against a gritty downtown without actually delving into the core of real issues. “The progressives in Santa Cruz have often looked for ways to draw a line in the sand and make it clear that they are not so liberal that they wouldn’t stand up to crime or criminals and sometimes that has led them to campaigns similar to the one that’s running through town right now,” he says.

 

Best Option?

In the tangle of confusion surrounding the ordinance, one thing is certain: If the community had been seriously consulted on the content of this ordinance, the vast majority of Santa Cruz would consider it far from perfect.

Dixie Mills is the founder of the Santa Cruz Fringe Festival, which brings theater, comedy, dance and circus acts to a variety of venues in Santa Cruz for several days each summer. As a person who straddles the worlds of traveling artists and established arts business (Mills is the resident choreographer at The 418 Project and also teaches Pilates in town), Mills opposes the ordinance.

“This new ordinance will silently kill the street performer/vendor scene that is so much a part of the flavor of downtown Santa Cruz. If the ordinance just banned this kind of activity all together, there would probably be a big uproar. This way these activities are still allowed, but they are so constrained with rules that slowly but surely we will have a quieter, and less interesting downtown,” she says.  “It seems to me the spirit of Santa Cruz would want to attract these artists instead of making it difficult or impossible for them to share their talents.”

Downtown Santa Cruz’s sidewalks don’t have the capacity to accommodate large groups of people surrounding a performer—the kind of audience the best street performers in places with car-free pedestrian malls like Boulder, Colorado and Covent Garden in London can expect. In Santa Cruz, performers have never come for that. They’ve come to experience the spirit of our town, or they are locals like Noddy who develop their acts here before hitting the big time.

But Noddy expects the effect of the new ordinances will be to deter the best performers from coming to Santa Cruz. “There just isn’t that much money to be made on that narrow sidewalk to make it worth competing with so many other performers, and asked to share the same restrictions with panhandlers, and develop relationships with police of various sorts. That’s not the fun part of the job,” he says.  “There is an effort to change the nature of downtown and those directing the change don’t see room for performers.”

Sage, the didgeridoo player, says the new ordinance reminds him of the drum circle that, until 2008, took place every Wednesday at the downtown farmers’ market. Not unlike downtown sidewalks, Sage says the drum circle was made up of about half serious musicians and half “druggie types, just kinda tweakin’ around, hangin’ around.” In ’08 the drum circle was banned from the farmers’ market, and police moved it to San Lorenzo Park. But the good musicians didn’t follow it there, says Sage. “Now it’s just druggie people. [The drum circle] got killed,” he says. “It’s dead.”

Packing up his instrument after an hour in front of the New Leaf Market downtown on a Sunday afternoon earlier this month, Sage shakes his head. He calls the new ordinance a “sad attempt” to make Santa Cruz more like Carmel—more posh and with no street performers. At the same time, he says he’s seen enough selective enforcement of the current laws to have hope that this one won’t really change anything.

“It’s not going to work, obviously,” he says.

Only time will tell if he’s right.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue.html Shahir ElShaieb

    I was really bothered by the passage of regulation 2013-14, which limits street performers on Pacific Avenue to a miniscule postage stamp of space, while also requiring that they don’t come near anything at all of interest, like a corner, or a sculpture, or humans.

    I thought “there must be a good reason for this.”

    Then I read this article, and now I realize there was no thought *at all* in this decision. The 5 yes votes on our council didn’t take performers into account, can’t do the simple math to figure out the area of a musical group of two or three people, and are basically governing us by knee-jerk reaction to “public safety” while not actually doing anything for our town.

    The ultimate irony of this move is that we’re now guaranteed a lot more talentless groaning from transients with guitars (who fit easily in 12 square feet!), and a lot less of the supremely talented multi-member music groups that have made Pacific Ave so amazing recently. 

    I expect intelligent governance from the city council—thoughtful, well-planned legislating that makes the town a better place while also retaining its vibrance and artistic soul. Instead, it seems like “the plan” is to remake Santa Cruz as “Anywhere Corporate and Dull, USA.” Thumbs down.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2013/10/22/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue Shahir ElShaieb

    I was really bothered by the passage of regulation 2013-14, which limits street performers on Pacific Avenue to a miniscule postage stamp of space, while also requiring that they don’t come near anything at all of interest, like a corner, or a sculpture, or humans.

    I thought “there must be a good reason for this.”

    Then I read this article, and now I realize there was no thought *at all* in this decision. The 5 yes votes on our council didn’t take performers into account, can’t do the simple math to figure out the area of a musical group of two or three people, and are basically governing us by knee-jerk reaction to “public safety” while not actually doing anything for our town.

    The ultimate irony of this move is that we’re now guaranteed a lot more talentless groaning from transients with guitars (who fit easily in 12 square feet!), and a lot less of the supremely talented multi-member music groups that have made Pacific Ave so amazing recently. 

    I expect intelligent governance from the city council—thoughtful, well-planned legislating that makes the town a better place while also retaining its vibrance and artistic soul. Instead, it seems like “the plan” is to remake Santa Cruz as “Anywhere Corporate and Dull, USA.” Thumbs down.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue.html Don

    I HATE SEEING MUSIC DOWNTOWN PLEASE PASS HARSHER REGULATIONS SO THERE IS NO MUSIC AT ALL.. ALL MUSIC IS JUST AWFUL

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2013/10/22/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue Don

    I HATE SEEING MUSIC DOWNTOWN PLEASE PASS HARSHER REGULATIONS SO THERE IS NO MUSIC AT ALL.. ALL MUSIC IS JUST AWFUL

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue.html Tom Noddy

    Ms Perry’s article on the new anti-street performer law was thoughtfully written. The city council gave the matter less thought when rushing to put this new set of performer restrictions on top of another pile that was passed in 2002 and amended since.

    This kind of scapegoating is unfortunate and we’ve seen it before in Santa Cruz.

    By the way, Police Chief Belcher did not contribute to the set of guidelines that the performers developed in collaboration with downtown merchants and residents in 1980 and put into operation with the cooperation of his predecessor, Chief Bassett.
    The claim that the guidelines were not working in 2002 is disingenuous.  When the last fear-wave swept through town that year and led to “downtown ordinances” that included musicians and jugglers among the “downtown problems” we pleaded with them to give us even ONE example of a performer problem that was resisting our peer pressure and the police. We wanted to discuss the problems with all sides as we had done several times over that twenty years but they declined to meet with us and, instead, rushed through the foolish and unworkable set of performer restrictions that have been patched and tightened since.

    Street performers are subject to all of the laws that other citizens are. If they are blocking the sidewalk or tripping people, there are laws on the books that can already be applied. There is no need for street performer-specific laws that will inevitably be amended and amended into a vehicle that will drive away this positive contribution to our town. If the Council is not doing that consciously then it is, perhaps, even more shameful that they are doing so without even considering the impact on the lives of those performers or on the cultural life of our community. In 2002 we argued that the downtown merchants wouldn’t be happier if they abrogated the agreement with performers and dealt with them only through legislation and police. You got everything that you demanded of that city council … now you want more laws and you’ve got those too. Any end in sight?

    Tom Noddy

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2013/10/22/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue Tom Noddy

    Ms Perry’s article on the new anti-street performer law was thoughtfully written. The city council gave the matter less thought when rushing to put this new set of performer restrictions on top of another pile that was passed in 2002 and amended since.

    This kind of scapegoating is unfortunate and we’ve seen it before in Santa Cruz.

    By the way, Police Chief Belcher did not contribute to the set of guidelines that the performers developed in collaboration with downtown merchants and residents in 1980 and put into operation with the cooperation of his predecessor, Chief Bassett.
    The claim that the guidelines were not working in 2002 is disingenuous.  When the last fear-wave swept through town that year and led to “downtown ordinances” that included musicians and jugglers among the “downtown problems” we pleaded with them to give us even ONE example of a performer problem that was resisting our peer pressure and the police. We wanted to discuss the problems with all sides as we had done several times over that twenty years but they declined to meet with us and, instead, rushed through the foolish and unworkable set of performer restrictions that have been patched and tightened since.

    Street performers are subject to all of the laws that other citizens are. If they are blocking the sidewalk or tripping people, there are laws on the books that can already be applied. There is no need for street performer-specific laws that will inevitably be amended and amended into a vehicle that will drive away this positive contribution to our town. If the Council is not doing that consciously then it is, perhaps, even more shameful that they are doing so without even considering the impact on the lives of those performers or on the cultural life of our community. In 2002 we argued that the downtown merchants wouldn’t be happier if they abrogated the agreement with performers and dealt with them only through legislation and police. You got everything that you demanded of that city council … now you want more laws and you’ve got those too. Any end in sight?

    Tom Noddy

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue.html Raleigh

    Welcome to Santa Cruz, the city where vigilantes dictate policies, and the majority of the City Council openly supports gentrification!

    This is another win for TBSC and their agenda of community sterilization, and this time under the guise of overcrowded sidewalks. From my view, a mostly apathetic populace is paving the road for NIMBY groups of connected citizens to dictate politics in Santa Cruz, and these new laws are just one little piece of a much larger pie. TBSC’s puppets on the City Council are all too happy to oblige by putting on the mask of being tough on crime…in return for votes of course.

    But are these new ordinances truly tough on crime, or mere pandering to TBSC and their frightened ilk? Does anyone really think that making it hard on street performers is going to clean up our downtown? How about banning people from asking for change on the medians or the myriad of other recent laws that target the poor; what are they going to do to squelch violent crime? I’ll answer that, NOTHING!

    City Council, you’re missing the target, and wasting our money! What about gang bangers and meth houses? And to the citizens who don’t think that this law (or the any of the other draconian laws rammed through recently) will affect you, think about the frog in the boiling pot. This is just one small step closer to the average citizen losing more of their rights. With the complete and unyielding support of the various community groups here in SC, the system is being allowed to chip away at our freedoms, and eventually we’re all going to loose. The founding fathers (Read Thomas Jefferson on security) of this great country are probably rolling over in their graves at how easily we’re giving up our rights for supposed safety, and it’s all being perpetuated by a handful of people.

    Santa Cruz, you’ve been duped!

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2013/10/22/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue Raleigh

    Welcome to Santa Cruz, the city where vigilantes dictate policies, and the majority of the City Council openly supports gentrification!

    This is another win for TBSC and their agenda of community sterilization, and this time under the guise of overcrowded sidewalks. From my view, a mostly apathetic populace is paving the road for NIMBY groups of connected citizens to dictate politics in Santa Cruz, and these new laws are just one little piece of a much larger pie. TBSC’s puppets on the City Council are all too happy to oblige by putting on the mask of being tough on crime…in return for votes of course.

    But are these new ordinances truly tough on crime, or mere pandering to TBSC and their frightened ilk? Does anyone really think that making it hard on street performers is going to clean up our downtown? How about banning people from asking for change on the medians or the myriad of other recent laws that target the poor; what are they going to do to squelch violent crime? I’ll answer that, NOTHING!

    City Council, you’re missing the target, and wasting our money! What about gang bangers and meth houses? And to the citizens who don’t think that this law (or the any of the other draconian laws rammed through recently) will affect you, think about the frog in the boiling pot. This is just one small step closer to the average citizen losing more of their rights. With the complete and unyielding support of the various community groups here in SC, the system is being allowed to chip away at our freedoms, and eventually we’re all going to loose. The founding fathers (Read Thomas Jefferson on security) of this great country are probably rolling over in their graves at how easily we’re giving up our rights for supposed safety, and it’s all being perpetuated by a handful of people.

    Santa Cruz, you’ve been duped!

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue.html Mark Henson

    Hey Tom!

    go look up “Robert Lederman” on google and you will see a wealth of info about his 10 year victorious battle with the city of New York. He won almost all his court cases and today one can perform or sell their art on the streets of NYC. The rulings on his cases can help you win this one in court.
    All the Best
    Mark Henson
    I left Santa Cruz when they kicked me out of Open Studio for being “too commercial”

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2013/10/22/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue Mark Henson

    Hey Tom!

    go look up “Robert Lederman” on google and you will see a wealth of info about his 10 year victorious battle with the city of New York. He won almost all his court cases and today one can perform or sell their art on the streets of NYC. The rulings on his cases can help you win this one in court.
    All the Best
    Mark Henson
    I left Santa Cruz when they kicked me out of Open Studio for being “too commercial”

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue.html Razer Ray

    This: “In ’08 the drum circle was banned from the farmers’ market, and police moved it to San Lorenzo Park.”

    …is patently false. The Farmers Market Drum Circle was squeezed out of it’s venue by expansion of the Farmers Market into the whole of the Lincoln-Cathcart parking lot and is currently playing late every Wednesday on the San Lorenzo River levee Downtown side, between the Soquel and Broadway bridge. There are no “druggie people” in the drum circle as your “Sage” referred. Albeit the levee has it’s share of druggies, and alcoholics who can go into CVS at 6 am to begin their drinking day at the largest open air bar in Santa Cruz… The Levee.

    I’d suggest, as a long term attendee of the circle, that “Sage” has never even been to one of the circles. Hope his baking job works out, because except for the novelty of his instrument there was nothing very novel about his playing, and he should not quit his day job.

    (My CV: I did sound and recording for a local public radio station for more than a decade and have worked with quite a few unique instrument acts over the years including dij, Marimba, Saw… Artis the Spoonman and Tom Noddy. I was an ancillary part of the original Street Performers Guild… the list is extensive, and I know a good performance when I see and hear one)

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2013/10/22/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue Razer Ray

    This: “In ’08 the drum circle was banned from the farmers’ market, and police moved it to San Lorenzo Park.”

    …is patently false. The Farmers Market Drum Circle was squeezed out of it’s venue by expansion of the Farmers Market into the whole of the Lincoln-Cathcart parking lot and is currently playing late every Wednesday on the San Lorenzo River levee Downtown side, between the Soquel and Broadway bridge. There are no “druggie people” in the drum circle as your “Sage” referred. Albeit the levee has it’s share of druggies, and alcoholics who can go into CVS at 6 am to begin their drinking day at the largest open air bar in Santa Cruz… The Levee.

    I’d suggest, as a long term attendee of the circle, that “Sage” has never even been to one of the circles. Hope his baking job works out, because except for the novelty of his instrument there was nothing very novel about his playing, and he should not quit his day job.

    (My CV: I did sound and recording for a local public radio station for more than a decade and have worked with quite a few unique instrument acts over the years including dij, Marimba, Saw… Artis the Spoonman and Tom Noddy. I was an ancillary part of the original Street Performers Guild… the list is extensive, and I know a good performance when I see and hear one)

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue.html Razer Ray

    I’m contesting the validity of a statement made by one of your featured ‘artists’, “Sage”. Would you care to have it brought up in a letter to the editor instead, among other resources?

    Publish my initial comment from the evening of Oct 24.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2013/10/22/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue Razer Ray

    I’m contesting the validity of a statement made by one of your featured ‘artists’, “Sage”. Would you care to have it brought up in a letter to the editor instead, among other resources?

    Publish my initial comment from the evening of Oct 24.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue.html I Voted for Pamela Comstock and all I got was Auto

    Isn’t it ironic that the TBSC co-founder and City Councilwoman Pamela Comstock works for a company that created autotune, a piece of software that allows completely untalented hacks to pass themselves off as actual vocalists?  Is anyone surprised that she’d be readily in favor of an ordinance that wants to clear artists off the streets of downtown Santa Cruz for the dulcet tones of canned Muzak instead?

    Yes, Santa Cruz, thanks in large part to the complicity of news media, has turned into a town afraid of it’s own shadow. Hourly news reports of even the most minor incident has convinced even rational people that Santa Cruz is more dangerous than the worst hood in LA or Chicago.  And so in response has sprung up a multitude of “take back” and “clean up” groups and of course the opportunistic politicians who promised to address matters of a critical and urgent nature.

    And so what does this new City Council do?  Focus on gangs that deal drugs and slaughter our youth?  No of course not.  Maybe demand that SCPD finally come up with a plan to crush organized bike theft rings?  No why would they do that?No, Santa Cruz Tuff On Crime big on safety City Council decides that what is really hurting Santa Cruz and making it unsafe for all the little children and all the hordes of wealthy downtown shoppers are street musicians and artists!

    And what do fellow citizens think of the latest purge and be safe ordinance?  Well like any group of people living in fear, the promise of safety will make even the most absurd law make sense.  So, we’re now on our way to becoming just another made for the tourist, don’t forget to collect your travel rewards points, CA coastal town.  So I for one would like to give a special shoutout to TBSC and their ilk, for helping turn our town into just another autotuned bit of pablum.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2013/10/22/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue I Voted for Pamela Comstock and all I got was Auto

    Isn’t it ironic that the TBSC co-founder and City Councilwoman Pamela Comstock works for a company that created autotune, a piece of software that allows completely untalented hacks to pass themselves off as actual vocalists?  Is anyone surprised that she’d be readily in favor of an ordinance that wants to clear artists off the streets of downtown Santa Cruz for the dulcet tones of canned Muzak instead?

    Yes, Santa Cruz, thanks in large part to the complicity of news media, has turned into a town afraid of it’s own shadow. Hourly news reports of even the most minor incident has convinced even rational people that Santa Cruz is more dangerous than the worst hood in LA or Chicago.  And so in response has sprung up a multitude of “take back” and “clean up” groups and of course the opportunistic politicians who promised to address matters of a critical and urgent nature.

    And so what does this new City Council do?  Focus on gangs that deal drugs and slaughter our youth?  No of course not.  Maybe demand that SCPD finally come up with a plan to crush organized bike theft rings?  No why would they do that?No, Santa Cruz Tuff On Crime big on safety City Council decides that what is really hurting Santa Cruz and making it unsafe for all the little children and all the hordes of wealthy downtown shoppers are street musicians and artists!

    And what do fellow citizens think of the latest purge and be safe ordinance?  Well like any group of people living in fear, the promise of safety will make even the most absurd law make sense.  So, we’re now on our way to becoming just another made for the tourist, don’t forget to collect your travel rewards points, CA coastal town.  So I for one would like to give a special shoutout to TBSC and their ilk, for helping turn our town into just another autotuned bit of pablum.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue.html Jacob Pierce

    Thanks, Razer.

    Yes, do feel free to also contact us with a Letter to the Editor at letters [at] SantaCruz.com.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2013/10/22/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue Jacob Pierce

    Thanks, Razer.

    Yes, do feel free to also contact us with a Letter to the Editor at letters [at] SantaCruz.com.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue.html Robert Norse

    The latest turn of the screw on street culture downtown is part of a long campaign targeting homeless people.

    Thisis done under the phony labels of “bad behavior”, “public ssfety”, “quality of life”, “nuisance behavior”, or just “crime” (as the Citizens Task Force on Public Safety now likes to define behavior that offends right-wing aesthetics).

    When high-profile street performers chose, first in 1994, again in 2002, and yet again in 2003 to throw homeless folks under the bus by accepting the ridiculous restrictions on non-obstructive sitting and peaceful sparechanging, they paved the way for this latest near-total exclusion of performers, tablers add vendors.

    I suppose it gained a little time for those groups,

    But it reminds me of the famous Martin Niemöller quote “When they came for the Communists, I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Communist…” (full quote at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came ).

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2013/10/22/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue Robert Norse

    The latest turn of the screw on street culture downtown is part of a long campaign targeting homeless people.

    Thisis done under the phony labels of “bad behavior”, “public ssfety”, “quality of life”, “nuisance behavior”, or just “crime” (as the Citizens Task Force on Public Safety now likes to define behavior that offends right-wing aesthetics).

    When high-profile street performers chose, first in 1994, again in 2002, and yet again in 2003 to throw homeless folks under the bus by accepting the ridiculous restrictions on non-obstructive sitting and peaceful sparechanging, they paved the way for this latest near-total exclusion of performers, tablers add vendors.

    I suppose it gained a little time for those groups,

    But it reminds me of the famous Martin Niemöller quote “When they came for the Communists, I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Communist…” (full quote at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came ).

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue.html Elaine

    I have to agree with Raleigh’s comment. The people who are running the show known as Santa Cruz want to sterilize the downtown. They are choking the art and soul out of Santa Cruz and its citizens.

    Maybe they should put a big chain linked electrified fence around downtown. Have a gate that is guarded by a big bad bouncer to make sure no undesirables get in.

    Wait this sounds a lot like segregated concentration camps. Who supported those?

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2013/10/22/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue Elaine

    I have to agree with Raleigh’s comment. The people who are running the show known as Santa Cruz want to sterilize the downtown. They are choking the art and soul out of Santa Cruz and its citizens.

    Maybe they should put a big chain linked electrified fence around downtown. Have a gate that is guarded by a big bad bouncer to make sure no undesirables get in.

    Wait this sounds a lot like segregated concentration camps. Who supported those?

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2013/10/22/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue KATHY CHEER

    BAN ALL AUDIO-VISUAL ART..  WELCOME, GREY SILENCE.
                                        ORSON WELLS. 

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue.html KATHY CHEER

    BAN ALL AUDIO-VISUAL ART..  WELCOME, GREY SILENCE.
                                        ORSON WELLS. 

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2013/10/22/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue Butter Fly

    Great comments, Shahir!  I agree with you totally!  I am going to go along with the idea “Nobody for City Council” on my next vote, except for the two who opposed this ridiculous legislation!  They should be ashamed of themselves.  I know many are ashamed of their actions

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue.html Butter Fly

    Great comments, Shahir!  I agree with you totally!  I am going to go along with the idea “Nobody for City Council” on my next vote, except for the two who opposed this ridiculous legislation!  They should be ashamed of themselves.  I know many are ashamed of their actions

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/2013/10/22/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue cody

    Why do actual artists have to suffer because take back Santa Cruz does not approve of any homeless? they do not address actual problems caused by the dangerous drug afflicted homeless, instead they have been working ever closer to getting rid of all the homeless, even the families that are having a hard time in this county. they are restricting the actual artists that make this town a cultural experience of social positivity that makes our city speak to the world of people who want to visit this town every year. if we devoid this town of the real artists then the actual problematic homeless will be rampant on downtown with their panhandling and drunken guitar solos. i am a community based person i do not want to live in a city that will not allow the experienced and very skilled artists in it to show their ability to the people. i want to have a social happy experience for when people visit our city, not like when you go to Monterey and its foggy and the homeless in monterey are more poivert than the homeless we have here in santa cruz. at least in our city we have the means to help and reform the problematic homeless that take back santa cruz is so against. art is a gift that they are choosing to share with all of us to enjoy please dont let it be ruined by some people who believe art is a way for the homeless to interrupt stores or sidewalks because those stores are bigger, brighter and wider than any other human and their blanket, bass, or drums. i can easily walk around the artists downtown freely and happily without tripping they stay out of the way more than the actual tourists who visit here.
    thank you for reading and have a nice day.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/will_new_rules_change_culture_of_pacific_avenue.html cody

    Why do actual artists have to suffer because take back Santa Cruz does not approve of any homeless? they do not address actual problems caused by the dangerous drug afflicted homeless, instead they have been working ever closer to getting rid of all the homeless, even the families that are having a hard time in this county. they are restricting the actual artists that make this town a cultural experience of social positivity that makes our city speak to the world of people who want to visit this town every year. if we devoid this town of the real artists then the actual problematic homeless will be rampant on downtown with their panhandling and drunken guitar solos. i am a community based person i do not want to live in a city that will not allow the experienced and very skilled artists in it to show their ability to the people. i want to have a social happy experience for when people visit our city, not like when you go to Monterey and its foggy and the homeless in monterey are more poivert than the homeless we have here in santa cruz. at least in our city we have the means to help and reform the problematic homeless that take back santa cruz is so against. art is a gift that they are choosing to share with all of us to enjoy please dont let it be ruined by some people who believe art is a way for the homeless to interrupt stores or sidewalks because those stores are bigger, brighter and wider than any other human and their blanket, bass, or drums. i can easily walk around the artists downtown freely and happily without tripping they stay out of the way more than the actual tourists who visit here.
    thank you for reading and have a nice day.