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Santa Monica loosens policy for street performers

October 16, 2009 |  6:00 am

Street performers in Santa Monica will no longer need a permit to entertain passersby on most city sidewalks under an ordinance approved this week by the City Council.

The new rule came in response to a ruling over the summer by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that stated Seattle's permit requirement violated the 1st Amendment of the Constitution.

Santa Monica's council members said its situation was different because the Seattle case involved an 80-acre open area and its street performance areas are narrow and congested. Under the change approved Tuesday on a 6-0 vote, street performers must still have a permit to work on the Third Street Promenade, the pier and the transit mall.

The LookOut news in Santa Monica has more:

Numerous adjustments have been made to the street performance ordinance through the years to conform with new case law and in response to public and street performer demand. Changes have included a ban on dangerous objects in 1991 and the establishment of a lottery system for performers in 2003.

Several street performers spoke at the City Council meeting. Nearly all said they favored the current permitting system for the Promenade, pier and transit mall.

“It is required to maintain some sort of sanity in the city,” said Walt Davis, who has been performing since 1986.

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