Santa Cruz Weekly looks at new sidewalk restrictions

October 23, 2013

Georgia Perry over at the Santa Cruz Weekly has a piece this week on the new sidewalk restrictions being implemented downtown.

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.

The new ordinances haven’t been without controversy. Many argue the new policies unfairly target certain groups, and protests have been held throughout the past few weeks. A community blanket “sit-in” is planned for tomorrow afternoon outside Forever 21 on Pacific Avenue starting at 1 p.m.

What do you think of the new ordinances? Personally, I’ve really enjoyed many of the street musicians and performers I’ve seen here in Santa Cruz and felt that it adds a certain life and color to downtown that I don’t always see in other places.

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