Performers on the Santa Monica Pier will be allowed to extend their performances by two hours to 1 a.m. seven days a week year-round, following action by the Santa Monica City Council last week.

Late performances were already permitted Friday and Saturday nights — until 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday morning.

“We’re very lucky to have street performers in Santa Monica,” said mayor pro tem Kevin McKeown. “They contribute a great deal to what makes this city special.”

The council also voted last week to require Third Street Promenade street vendors to rotate public space positions.

The changes go into effect 30 days after the council action Tuesday, November 9th.

Santa Monica municipal code changes regarding use of city public spaces on the Santa Monica Pier do not affect performances inside pier restaurants.

Promenade performance times will not change under the code amendments and performers will continue to be required to conclude their performances at 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and at midnight Fridays and Saturdays.

The city will also impose a range of enforcement remedies when pier and Promenade entertainers perform after permitted hours:

– fines no less than $100 and not exceeding $250 per violation;

– a misdemeanor arrest if entertainers refuse to stop performing after repeatedly being told to stop; and

– a 12-month suspension period if a performer’s permit was revoked once before and two new public safety violations occur.

“We have had a few performers that, when asked to complete their night’s performance, have refused,” McKeown said.

“The misdemeanor actually allows a performer to be stopped,” he said. “We would always first issue a warning to stop before issuing a misdemeanor.”

Noise enforcement changes include measuring noise violations from the noise source, such as an amplifier, and making members of a performance group all equally responsible for violations.

Pier and Promenade performers will also be required to carry permits with photo identification. The cost of obtaining a permit will increase to cover the cost of adding a photo.

Santa Monica city attorney Marsha Moutrie said some performers had been exchanging permits with each other to avoid repeated citations and that a photo permit would close this loophole.

STREET VENDORS — Another major change to the municipal code requires street vendors — people who sell buttons and stickers on the Promenade — to rotate positions along with street performers.

Those vendors had been previously exempt from rotation because they do not attract large crowds and do not hinder emergency access to the Promenade.

Performers have been required to rotate because they tend to attract large crowds, which impede the flow of pedestrian traffic.

Moutrie said some street vendors have “constitutional free speech rights” and should be exempt from the rotation.

“Courts have not been interested in enforcing the rotation rule because of free speech,” Moutrie said.

Councilmember Michael Feinstein said a public safety rationale is “defendable” in court if the City Council makes everyone rotate.

“Rotation is based on the idea that people need to be able to pick up and move all their stuff in one trip,” Feinstein said.

“People who believe in free speech also tend to believe in the greatness of public spaces available to everyone,” he said. “To have a free speech vendor say ‘No, I don’t have to move’ is not acceptable.”

Mayor Richard Bloom and Councilmembers Ken Genser and Pam O’Conner voted against requiring street vendors to rotate.

“We have already been told by the courts that they are not going to enforce or uphold this,” Genser said. “We are inviting litigation that we don’t need to be in.”

OTHER CHANGES — The City Council directed city staff to review operations on Santa Monica Pier in order to make future municipal code changes.

Councilmembers voted to use a first-come, first-served voucher system to allocate public spaces on the pier and asked the Pier Restoration Corporation, which manages the pier, to review the prospect of a rotation system.

City staff will also determine if artists who paint lettered signs by hand are to be considered street performers or vendors.

“These performers make signs to order, usually for $1 per letter, but do not make signs unless there is a paying customer,” Moutrie said.

“This practice raises a question about the distinction between performance, which is lawful, and street vending, which is significantly restricted by local law,” she said.

At future meetings, the City Council will decide whether to remove five public performance spaces at the end of the pier to create a “quiet contemplation” area and whether to allow in-line skating on the Promenade.

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