New regulations governing street performers in Asheville has been a hot topic of debate since last year, when Asheville City Council backed off adopting new rules after a public outcry from buskers and their supporters. Since then, the Asheville Downtown Association has been working with newly organized buskers under the Asheville Busker Collective umbrella to reach agreement on some regulations. A key sticking point is whether or not buskers can be allowed to sell their music on the street.
The Downtown Association’s suggested changes have been submitted to Asheville City Council’s public safety committee for review. That committee will decide what to pass along to the full council for consideration. A spokeswoman for the Downtown Association spokeswoman tells me “We believe in the buskers,” adding that they’ve been great to work on this issue.
Here’s the reader note:
I moved to weaverville from s.fl 4 years ago. I have only been downtown several times. The last time I was there the performers didn’t seem out of control and aactually made My visit better. It was even the day that women had the topless rallies. That was a bit too much. Had to cover my 10 year olds eyes. Couldn’t believe APD didn’t do anything about it.
Today was my first time back since. I brought my, wife, son and visiting dad. The police were really cracking down on the performers. They made them stop and move on. We must have seen four to five different incidents of the APD writing tickets to performers. Then they would move on and as soon as the Police left another performer took the newly vaccated spot.
It took the charm out of our visit today. I realize there is a vagrant issues, but there needs to be a solution that will work for both parties. Three parties if you include visitors that come to the city for fun. Yes, I believe there should be areas where performers can occupy and visitors can enjoy them. I also know if you let one perform that you will have to let anyone else perform. A true conundrum.
What do you know about the APD policy on street performers? What I witnessed today was that under any circumstance performers are no longer welcome.
Is there a way performers can get a permit or time slot to work in different areas without police harassment?
Can a committee be formed to work this out. It’s part of what makes downtown Asheville so much more eccentric.
And here are the recommendations the Downtown Association has sent to city officials for review. I’ve bolded the parts that are the changes proposed:
Sec. 16-141. – Definitions.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
Biltmore Village Historic District means the overlay zoning district designated by that name in Appendix 7-E of this Code, described therein and outlined on the official zoning map of the city. Central Business District means the general use zoning district defined by that name in chapter 7 of this Code and outlined on the official zoning map of the city.
Merchandise includes, but is not limited to, plants, flowers, wearing apparel, jewelry, ornaments, art work, household or office supplies, food or beverages of any kind, whether or not for immediate consumption, or other goods or wares. Office and business uses correspond to the use tables found in Chapter 7, Article VIII of the Unified Development Ordinance.
Outdoor dining area means an area in front of or adjacent to a restaurant and located on a public sidewalk or square whereon tables, chairs or benches are placed for dining purposes.
Outdoor merchandise area means an area in front of or adjacent to a retail business where merchandise is located on a public sidewalk for the purpose of displaying, exhibiting, selling or offering for sale merchandise.
Pushcart means a wheeled cart which may be moved by one person without the assistance of a motor and which is designed and used for displaying, keeping or storing any food, beverages or other articles for sale by a vendor.
Sidewalk means all that area legally open to public use as a pedestrian public way between the curb line and the public right-of-way boundary along the abutting property.
Sidewalk entertainment means performances which may include, but not be limited to, music, dance, mimes, magicians, clowns, jugglers, tarot card readers and theatrical presentations, but specifically excluding speeches, lectures, and sermons.
(Ord. No. 3024, 5-27-03; Ord. No. 3266, § 1(a), 7-26-05)
Cross reference— Definitions and rules of construction generally, § 1-2.
Sec. 16-145. – Performers of sidewalk entertainment.
Performers of sidewalk entertainment shall meet the following requirements:
Not violate the prohibitions on disturbing, annoying and unnecessary noise as set forth in article IV of chapter 10 of the Code.
(2) Not violate the prohibitions on solicitation as set forth in City Code section 11-5 and 11-14
**Clarification that signage is not prohibited in the above ordinance.
Not obstruct or cause to be obstructed pedestrian or vehicular traffic, including but not limited to not obstructing or causing to be obstructed sidewalks, doorways or other access areas. Entertainer must provide a minimum of 6 feet of pedestrian passageway.
**Recommendation: Asheville Buskers Collective to impose a self-regulation policy. This policy will be communicated through a guide to busking etiquette to be produced by the collective.
As part of the self-regulation protocol, the sidewalk entertainer/s will ask the crowd to create a clear path to not obstruct walkways or business/access areas. The entertainer will also direct crowd to stay out of the street.
The sale of records, tapes or other products shall not be permitted.
1) Allow for the sale of only original music during performance, must be professionally displayed
2) City staff to investigate an online permitting system allowing for the sale of only original music during the time of performance
Perform only at times between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
Not consume nor be under the influence of alcoholic beverages or other controlled substances while performing, in compliance with the North Carolina laws and regulations.
Not perform any closer than 40 feet from another performance.
**Change of verbiage allows for more than one performer, groups/bands.
Not perform at locations designated for a community event or festival, unless permitted to play at the community event or festival by the event or festival coordinator, pursuant to section 16-97 of the Code.
Comply with all federal, state and local laws when performing within the city, including but not limited to, the solicitation ordinance and the noise ordinance.