City Council Meeting Preview: Street Performer Regulation, Food Trucks Survey

Monday, 25 Nov 2013, 9:11:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

Street performers are no strangers to anyone who visits the Third Street Promenade or Santa Monica Pier. The City Council will be considering Tuesday an ordinance proposing to impose stiffer regulations for street performers who pose a threat to public safety.

City Hall issues permits to street performers who seek to occupy a space on the Promenade, Pier, or Transit Mall.

Under current City law, a street performer’s permit could be suspended or revoked with a minimum of two offenses.

The proposed ordinance recommends altering the Municipal Code to give City Hall an opportunity to revoke or suspend a permit based upon one violation, depending on its severity.

“The Santa Monica Municipal Code (SMMC) requires a minimum of two performance-related offenses of the SMMC to suspend or revoke a performer’s permit, regardless of the severity of the first offense even if one of the offenses is severe, such as falsifying information on an application,” City staff stated. “In a recent case, a performer falsified his application by indicating “no” to the question of whether or not he was a registered sex offender.  This offense constituted only the first violation of the law, not the second, and therefore limited the options available to staff to address this issue.”

Also, the proposed ordinance recommends council members to amend the Municipal Code to allow for greater enforcement of lottery results to perform on the Pier.

The lottery allocating performance locations to street performers on the Pier “does not explicitly require performers to abide by the results of the lottery, nor does it specifically ban the sale or transfer of the temporary lottery allocation permit,” City staff stated.

Council members will also be weighing in and potentially giving City staff direction on permitting and zoning for off-street food truck venues in the Main Street Commercial District.

The call for a staff direction was spawned by a survey of Main Street businesses and food truck patrons “to assess potential impacts of the Tuesday night food truck event at the California Heritage Museum on area businesses.”

The survey results indicate that the food trucks have minimal impact on the Main Street businesses, City staff stated. “In addition, in response to Council direction to propose a limited term permit to authorize off-street food truck venues, staff recommends that the updated Zoning Ordinance provide a permit that would allow off-street food truck venues up to a three year term with the potential for permit re-application.”

Maureen Erbeznik and Associates conducted the survey and, according to City staff, canvassed “food truck patrons, Main Street businesses and Main Street patrons for the purposes of reassessing the economic impacts of the food truck event on Main Street businesses.”

The surveys were conducted in January, April, and May. According to City staff, 112 food truck patrons, 65 Main Street patrons, and 59 Main Street businesses completed the survey.

“Based on the patron and business surveys as well as tax revenue review, the findings suggest the California Heritage Museum food truck event does not appear to have a significant negative impact to Main Street business activity,” City staff stated.

Full analysis of the survey results and potential council direction will be provided in Friday's edition of The Mirror.

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