The Jamestown City Council is working on an ordinance to regulate busking, or performing in public for tips. While City Council members have said it is an effort to be proactive and deal with potential problems, there are already enough laws in place to take care of these types of problems, if they even occur.
The City Council authorized its attorney to prepare a busking ordinance based on one in place in Fargo. Fargo had 21 licensed buskers this summer, according to Derrick LaPoint, Fargo city planner.
One question is, how many buskers would go through the work of getting a Jamestown license to perform, even at a nominal cost? If a traveling performer stops here on the weekend, getting a license would be a problem if it’s only available at City Hall.
The topic could come up for further discussion during the Finance and Legal Committee on Oct. 24, according to Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen. A first reading of the ordinance could come as early as the Nov. 6 City Council meeting.
The ordinance will likely include a definition of where busking is allowed, when buskers can perform and a code of conduct. It will also include a licensing requirement, although the cost of the license has yet to be set.
The discussion of this topic centers around the new Hansen Arts Park. This location would be ideal for street performers but buskers, if they do indeed begin performing in the Arts Park, don’t need to be regulated.
Instead, expression of art or music should be encouraged as a way to provide the public with more reasons to spend time in the park and the downtown area. The Hansen Arts Park was created to provide a space to engage with people downtown. Requiring a license to perform could create a barrier to doing that.
If there are problems with people aggressively seeking tips or blocking sidewalks, concerns expressed by those who are promoting the ordinance, they can be dealt with through the existing ordinances of disorderly conduct or blocking the public right of way.
There are times to be proactive and create regulations before major problems occur.
The threat of street performers creating a problem in Jamestown just doesn’t reach that level.
Editorials are the opinion of Jamestown Sun management and the newspaper’s editorial board.