Santa Cruz Street Musicians Navigate Downtown Ordinances





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Published on Nov 12, 2012

A recent trip to downtown Santa Cruz revealed how difficult it can be for street musicians to navigate the many different city ordinances that affect them, some of them unfairly. The downtown is patrolled by officers from the Santa Cruz Police Department, both on foot and in vehicles, and also by private security forces which include uniformed guards employed by First Alarm. The Downtown (business) Association's own representatives, who are called "hospitality guides" dress in bright yellow and also enforce city ordinances by threatening to call the police if individuals do not comply with their demands.

On the Friday evening of November 9, a group of four musicians who were playing in front of the New Leaf Market, located on the corner of Pacific Avenue and Soquel Avenue, were told by two Downtown Hospitality guides to stop playing because the crowd listening to them had become too large. The band did not argue and they moved across Soquel Avenue to resume playing in front of the new Forever 21 store.

Taking the band's place in front of New Leaf was a single woman who sang and played an acoustic guitar. Shortly after she began to play, she was told by a hospitality guide that she was violating the city's noise ordinance and that she would have to stop what she was doing.

The young woman was told that she would have to stop playing was because the complaint came from someone, "trying to conduct business."

"I'm trying to conduct business," she emphatically stated when interviewed.

"This is the third time [in one day] I have been stopped," she said, sadly.

When asked if she thought she was playing louder than the four person band who were previously there, and still playing across the street, she said, "I think they were much louder."

To read more and view photos, see:
Street Musicians Navigate a Myriad of City Ordinances in Downtown Santa Cruz

The downtown hospitality guide interacted with the musicians a number of times, as can be seen on the video:

0:00 Woman with guitar in front of New Leaf Market told to move because she has received a noise complaint.
2:20 Four person band plays in front of Forever 21.
2:51 Hospitality guide tells band members not to sit on the planter boxes, that they have to be at least 14 feet from the "Imagine Positive Change" meters, and that they need to "relocate."
3:21 Woman receives another noise complaint in front of New Leaf.
5:59 Hospitality guide reminds band that they have to be "seven squares out" and that they have to relocate every hour.
7:00 Sergeant Bush of the SCPD walks by an instrument case that is not "seven squares out" and also individuals sitting on the sidewalk. The Sergeant walks by without stopping.
7:18 The hospitality guide tells two audience members they may not sit on the sidewalk, and tells a band member not to sit on the planter again.
7:36 The woman asks the guide again why she was singled out for a noise complaint.
7:50 The band engages in some lite civil disobedience.
8:05 The guide tells band they have to leave.

Video by Alex Darocy

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