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Topic: Myrtle Beach Busking
Message: Posted by: JoeJoe (Mar 23, 2012 04:55PM)
A quick review of the history ... busking in Myrtle Beach has been illegal ever since anyone here can remember; when the Pavilion closed a few years ago, there was a push by the Merchant Association to allow it which resulted in a permit system that was based on the Seattle ordinance; when Magic Mike had that ordinance shot down, Myrtle Beach repealed their ordinance and busking once again falls under a strict "no soliciting" policy - if you put a hat down, you get arrested and I was informed that a couple of arrests were made last summer, but I can't confirm.

Can anyone make any sense of this?? It seems to me that by leaving the definition of performer as "Performer means a person who has obtained a permit pursuant to this section." and then repealing 19-172 which set forth the process to obtain the permit ... that it is now illegal to do a magic trick on public property, or to even sing happy birthday for that matter.



Sec. 19-170. Purposes.

The city council finds that the existence in the city of street or public performers provides a public amenity that enhances the character of the city and seeks to encourage such performances to the extent that they do not interfere with the reasonable expectations of residents to the enjoyment of peace and quiet in their homes, the safe and orderly movement of vehicular or pedestrian traffic, or to the ability of businesses to conduct their businesses without impediment or interruption. This section seeks to balance the interests of the performers with those of the residents and businesses of the city. A street or public performance occurring under this section is not the act of solicitation as defined in City Code.

Sec. 19-171. Definitions.

Specifically pertaining to this division:

"Perform" includes, but is not limited to, the following activities suitable for listening, viewing or participation by an unaccompanied minor: acting, singing, playing musical instruments, pantomime, juggling, magic, dancing, reading, puppetry, sidewalk art (working with non-permanent, water-soluble media, i.e., chalk, pastels, or watercolors directly on the pavement), and reciting. Perform shall not include the manufacture, assemblage, production, display or offering of items for sale, or the solicitation for money in exchange for the performance. The performance is done for free with no expectation of donation.

"Performer" means a person who performs under a permit.

"Public areas" means public sidewalks, parks, playgrounds and other pedestrian areas, as limited by council resolution.

Sec. 19-172. Reserved

Sec. 19-173. Time, place and manner permitted performances.

(a) Performances may take place only as part of a special event or facility use permit in public areas, except within 100 feet of an elementary and/or secondary school, library, or church while in session, a hospital at any time, and except in public areas excluded by the city council by resolution.

Message: Posted by: Chance (Mar 23, 2012 05:05PM)
Still 100% illegal. It still goes against all legal precedent: It is not a crime to beg or solicit monies; it is not a crime to talk about money (or anything else for that matter); it is not a crime to receive compensation for your performance; it is not a crime to offer tangible goods in exchange of tips or donations -- etc., etc. This is a classic case of over-reach. Hundreds of laws like this exist all over the country, and they are allowed to remain in place so long as no one steps in to challenge them in court.

The ONLY -- O.N.L.Y. -- legal setting which any law of this type can be upheld, is if/when it can be proven that the busker/artist has demanded a set price for what ever it is they are doing, and didn't accept free will donations instead. Besides that, we are free to make what ever suggestions we like, just so long as we are willing to take less (or more), or even nothing at all.
Message: Posted by: JoeJoe (Mar 23, 2012 05:09PM)
Well of course it is 100% illegal - that goes without saying. I am considering doing something about it, I just don't know what yet.

Right now I am just trying to make sense of it, this is one of the worst ordinances I've ever seen on any topic. They took something that at least made sense, and chopped it up into pieces, threw most of them away, and now you can't even figure out what it used to be ... yet alone what it is now.

Message: Posted by: JoeJoe (Mar 23, 2012 05:27PM)
On that link, scroll down to "Division 4" for the street performing section ... or use this Municode link, which gives a history of what was repealed:


Message: Posted by: Dave V (Mar 23, 2012 06:38PM)
Interesting... It doesn't say what was repealed or why, and when you go to the code comparative table you find that the entry for 19-172 is missing.
Message: Posted by: JoeJoe (Mar 23, 2012 06:55PM)
19-172 used to lay our the procedures to obtain a permit, saying that the City Business License Department would issue them for $50 etc etc etc.

It seems to be they have made it illegal to do a magic trick or sing Happy Birthday on public land ... but they have also repealed the penalties for doing so, so what type of legal limbo that equals is beyond me.

It also seems to me that busking would be legal under a "Special Use" permit, which is usually obtained by people for holding festivals and parades, and that the Oceanfront Merchant Association who holds such permits to have bands and fireworks over the summer is now "selling" a busker permit for $100, if you are willing to get a criminal background check. I guess they got tired of paying performers a fee and are hoping to find suckers to buy this permit, which incidentally you are not allowed to "solicit tips by word or sign" with.


See the kind of stupidity I have to live with?? [rolling eyes]

Message: Posted by: Chance (Mar 23, 2012 07:16PM)
The reason it all makes no sense, is because the "thing" being regulated, by law can't be, except only under extreme situations. It is an inalienable right, as described by the First Amendment. It's like trying to draw up laws against people with red hair, or specially regulate people who stand a certain height. How up in arms would people get if tomorrow this same city council outlawed red hair or taxed people over six feet 2 inches? It would become international news in hours.

Busking is free speech. Period, end of sentence. The only parties interested in regulating this fact to any degree whatsoever, only do so out of A) fear of what a truly open republic might look like, or B) trying to make a buck off it some how.

In EVERY case since 1970 where this issue has gone before a federal court, the busker or artist has won. Last summer I even won my case against Boston (finally, after a 3-year battle). The laws and the facts are clearly on our side. We just can't seem to bring ourselves to the point of fighting what actually is a national disgrace. In Boston, before I filed my case, I went to literally every other busking act in Boston I could locate to ask them to enter the case with me against the city. Every one of them refused. Some of them even cursed me out for wanting to make the city more open, instead of less. We could have had a class action case, but I was instead forced to go it alone. In the end, I won, and I won a cash settlement as well as being pretty much bullet proof from now on for similar actions. 30 other acts could be in the same exact position as I am now in Boston, but no. They all copped out, because they either didn't think it was worth their trouble to fight "the man", or they figure that a closed city is better money for them in the long run.

But all of them still get to stay in the "special busking zone" all crammed together, and I get to work any place I want hassle free.

Busking is not about forming cliques, or buying the next set of cups from your favorite guru, or attending the next online seminar. Busking is about FREEDOM, and I pity you guys who don't get that. I really do.
Message: Posted by: FunTimeAl (Mar 23, 2012 07:20PM)
Very well put Chance. Congratulations on your court case as well. That's a win for buskers everywhere!
Message: Posted by: The Great Zoobini (Mar 24, 2012 01:15PM)
I've also found buskers to be a wimpy sort - but what did I expect?
They're not normal nor should we expect them to be.
Message: Posted by: imgic (Mar 24, 2012 03:33PM)
Chance. Congrats on case. Possible to provide reference? Citation? Court Case number? Something for others to look at and possibly use?
Message: Posted by: imgic (Mar 24, 2012 03:41PM)
Quick google brought up (what else?) a Wikipedia article; turned out to be pretty informative and included some case histories


Good stuff.
Message: Posted by: imgic (Mar 29, 2012 04:06PM)
Chance... Any reference or case number?