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  • big changes for street performers

    Taken from the Dispatch website...

    During this week’s Mayor and City Council meeting, Mathias and Police Chief Bernadette DiPino presented their recommendation to have 18 specific locations where the street performers can perform. The spaces would be allocated by conducting a daily lottery at Town Hall at a designated time to put their name into a space.

    They also recommended a code change to have the performers comply with the noise ordinance so that they would have to end their performance by midnight. Additionally, the performers will be required to take a 15-minute break every 30 minutes as a way to move the crowd along and prevent congestion.

    Mathias said that there are many costumed characters that do not actually perform. They stand and wait to take pictures with spectators. She stated that these characters do not meet the test of a true street performer. She recommended the language in the city code be changed to define street performers.


    “Many of the performers are talented and they do have something that enhances the Boardwalk experience for our visitors,” Mathias said. “We just want to make it work.”

  • #2
    Re: big changes for street performers

    Just to clarify since this is a Mayor - City Council meeting. The "Mathias" references above are to City Clerk Kathy Mathias, not to former Mayor Jim Mathias.



    These regulations seem like they would be challenging to enforce and if enforced could distract police from more important enforcement issues.

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    • #3
      Re: big changes for street performers

      there is a lot more to this than what is stated here.

      They issued 555 permits last year, they are talking about changing the price to 10 dollars.

      They also are concerned with safety issues, saying that certain performers don't move when there is a rescue vehicle coming. I have never experienced this situation, but I do have to say that in the summer time, if you plan to drive down the boardwalk at any given time, there will be about 200,000 people in your way. Not so sure if a street performer can cause a problem or not here, I would think it's common sense that you would move, but apparently they have had issues in the past.

      The noise ordinance is a must, they don't want any extra music (like playing a boom box) or anything like that going on. Though, if you notice, several businesses in Ocean City have music coming from the stores, and also have pre-recorded sales pitches going (like get your Polish Ice, the best darn Polish Ice in the world, it's family sensable, and low in calories......sheesh). I have no problem with the noise ordinance, in fact I will even stop talking if they want me too (believe me, that would definately make some people happy)
      The most major change is that they are talking about making a "raffle" where you submit your name each morning to city hall, and they draw 20 names. if you get picked, you can go out, if not you have to stay in, and don't make money for that day. I am so disturbed by this, because this is how I earn the majority of my money for the entire year. They are also saying that the raffle on Friday will make it for Saturday and Sunday, and if you can't go on the weekend, your totaly wasting your time. I suggest that the permit be 150-250 dollars so that people who are not true professionals will be discouraged from getting a permit. Also, many place have a commitee where you are required to audition. This way they can remove anyone who doesn't have talent (like a guy in a spongebob costume). Believe me I am very sympathetic to the fact that the city has some issues with the perfomers that need to be resolved. But if this raffle system goes into effect, my hopes for this summer will be completely destroyed, and I will be yet another underemployed person in the city. I am so scared this will happen, I don't know what to do. There has to be some kind of common ground we can meet on, but I am a local United States Citizen and resident of Ocean City who is trying to carve a path through this crazy place, and I feel like I'm being Thwarted by the city. I understand that there are a lot of people out there (mostly foreigners who burned up the job policy issue to get here in the first place) and that it can be overwhelming to the tourist, and detremental to the whole experience, but there has to be something that we can do, without making it so my family doesn't eat this summer.. I'm so sad, I try so hard to abide by all the rules, and I report my taxes and everything, this is not fair by any means. I can't have a "raffle" every day to see if I am going to make money or not. This is just crazy, I might as well go play Keno. I have been out a few times pre-season, and I have discussed this with a lot of my patrons, and they feel it's completely crazy not to have Bobby Balloonz on the boardwalk. They come every year, 2 and 3 times, and the kids talk about thier balloons the whole trip in. That has to have some kind of importance. I could get a petition going or something of that nature? I'm really scared now, because I have debt and obligations that I was counting on this summers season to help me with. Please don't shut me down Ocean City Town Hall. Let's get together and make it sutiable for all persons invovled. I notice there is no mention in any of this about issuing less permits, I know they want to raise the price so they can collect a bit more money. but what about the people who have made this their lives and livelihood? This is a real thing, I'm not a panhandler or just another begger on the corner, I am someone who make people smile and offers a true service to the community. I spend so much time as an "ambassador" to the city by answering every quesiton that comes along the way (where is the bathroom, where is the clinic, the hospital, where can I park? How do I pay this ticket? where do I go? I lost my child, please help me?), these are things I am asked weekly if not multiple times a day, please don't shut me down, I love what I do, and it's the best job in the world I have ever had. When I came to Ocean City I was almost completely broke, I could not find work, as hard as I tried, while people from every part of the world were happily employeed (not all of them, employment is a major issue) and I had to make up my own job just to survive. With the rents sky rocketing it was a very hard time, but we pulled through. Now it's grown into something that has an ecommerce website, and provided me with a real living. I still work full-time for a local hotel, but this is my true passion, even a "calling" if you will.
      During the course of my time on the boardwalk, I became friends and associates with several local business owners on the boardwalk. I would say in my experience that 85% of the shop owners I dealt with on a daily basis, had employees that were under the table, from other countries, , and dodge the majority of their taxes and just generaly have shady business practices. There is so much trouble down there with people not doing the right thing, it's actually sickening to a degree. I see a lot of people ripping off the consumer, the city, the government, and everyone while I'm just here trying to make sure my wife and grandkids have a place that's warm and dry to sleep at night. I really need your compassion at this point in time, please don't it so we can't work. Raise the permit prices, make it so there is an audition, make a special "local resident" permit, please come up with some solution, I am willing to abide by any rules that you have.

      I really don't see how you can shut me down for giving out free balloons. I don't draw crowds, I make an effort not to have a crowd (kids lose interest quickly and walk away). Please reconsider this.

      Bobby Balloonz (silently humming tears of a clown to himself)
      Bobby Balloonz
      Ocean City's Fastest Balloon Artist

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: big changes for street performers

        Thanks for the insight Bobby...what can we do as group or at least myself since I do sympathize with you. Trips to the BW won't be the same without your balloons and the violin man who I have enjoyed for ??? years.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: big changes for street performers

          From what everything Bobby wrote, this seems like a very stupid idea. Issue permits as needed. We frequent the Boardwalk at least 7 to 10 times on our vacation. We've never had an issue with street performers. Very few draw a crowd and even the ones that do, it's never been a problem. As far as people getting out of the way. I see the regular foot traffic as more of a problem then somebody making balloon animals or juggling. It seems that often, the crowds won't move over for the tram. The street performers are just another part of what makes the Ocean City Boardwalk so terrific for people. Limiting permits or doing the lottery method would be just plain unfair. Over the years, our family got to know the man who played the piano or as of last year, posed as the cowboy statue. This gentleman comes from Ohio to do his craft, how is he supposed to make any kind of living if he can't depend on a regular schedule. I for one will write to the town council and share my opinion on this matter. Here's hoping common sense prevails.

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          • #6
            Re: big changes for street performers

            Sorry to be long winded but Bobby is right on the music issue. I have never really heard any of the performers be too loud. I do, however, here more noise and racket coming from many of the stores along the boardwalk, but again.... This is part of Ocean City and it's not like the Boardwalk is going to be kept to a low whisper during the regular season. If some ganster rapper decides to come in an perform with large speakers, let that be dealt with then. They should be able to institute a small regulation limiting nosie but the violin man or the man with the banjo and trumpet mounted to his hat aren't so loud that they have ever drowned out the dronings of the polish water ice man.

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            • #7
              Re: big changes for street performers

              Bobby, how can we help you? I would be willing to sign a "petition" online for you. There are sites where you can start a free petition. I bet if you wrote down your feelings on this new raffle system and post the link, most of us would be more than happy to sign.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: big changes for street performers

                Not to be Donny Downer here, but was this all brought up at City Coucil? Did the street performers who live in the area attend the meetings and make the suggestions that Bobby put out there? Like raising the fee to keep only the serious performers there? As for the music issue............I can honestly say that there are a few who play music with amplifiers that can be very loud and if I had a room close by and wanted to sit on my balcony......I might become annoyed with hearing the same music over........and over.......and over again all day and into the evening.

                I agree and sympathize with everything Bobby said. But if nobody went to council and presented them with their concerns, well then they can't complain. And if they did........then make your displeasure show at the polls. Councilmen and women are ELECTED officials. And write letters to the editor's of the local newspapers to be heard too. I guess it's too late now, but I hope it all works out for you Bobby and others.
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                • #9
                  Re: big changes for street performers

                  This is just a ridiculous, knee jerk, law. If the city had policed and eliminated some of these deadbeats from the beginning this situation would never have happened. The true performers are being penalized. I spent the better part of my youth touring with the Grateful Dead, selling t-shirts and jewelry. We policed ourselves and if you were ripping people off you didn't last long because we ran you off.

                  I also agree with what 'Z' said above. Where were all the street performers when this was happening? I can't feel sorry for anyone who wasn't there raising holy hell when all this was happening.

                  That being said, I'll be shooting off a letter to the Mayor and Council Chair today to let them know what a stupid law this is and how it is going to effect the true performers. Get rid of the stupid costumed people and teenagers playing crummy guitar and let the true artists alone.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: big changes for street performers

                    So the city has no real problems going on....i go to the board 4 or 5 times a year both at night and during the day. I actually enjoy the street performers and there unique skills they bring to the boardwalk. If I don't enjoy I keep moving along. I have never had my wife say we can't get by it's to crowded there clogging the boardwalk!

                    I do find it hard to believe that a street performer would not move out of the way for an emergency situation. I'll be honest I don't think that situation ever happened. It makes the argument stronger and is a way to garner support. If it did happen I would want to see the ticket that was issued. If there is no ticket then I want to know why?

                    I could write all day about the dangers of street performers and probably create all sorts of situations that make it seem alot worse than it is. In the end it's the boardwalk...the boardwalk in of itself is a noisy place. You have vendors talking loud,bells,whistles,music,amusement rides,parents yelling at there kids,baby's crying,teenagers laughing and conversations of 100,000 vacationers but all will be quite if the street performers stop performing.

                    Anyone who lives at or near the boardwalk knows it's loud. This is a silly topic for officials at city hall to have. The market will determine who is talented and who is not. What will they do? have a Gong Show with a panel of 3 up at city hall. If you pass the subjective test of who's talented then your free to perform up on the boards. I can tell you right now as someone in there 50's that my idea of talent is far different than a 35yr old, 25yr old, 15yr old or 5yr old.

                    The raffle sytem is interesting...the only reason to issue a lottery type system in this scenerio is to end street performers all together. It would be the end game for this profession. The performers who make a living at this would have there work week scheduled by sheer luck of the draw. My guess is that the Chief, Mathias and probably some other have an agenda to end this form of entertainment on the boardwalk.

                    At the end of the day....I just don't see how this makes OCMD a better place. It's just more regulation heaped upon more regulation. Street performers have been part of the fabric of Ocean City for decades and provide a unique entertainment that I don't get when I go home to my town of boringville, NJ.

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                    • #11
                      Re: big changes for street performers

                      I have a question, and Bobby can probably answer this one the best. I'm wondering if part of the problem is that foreign students are coming here without a guaranteed job and when they can't find one, just decide to "dress up in costumes" and become street performers. I get lots of questions from students from Russia and Croatia, etc, asking "where can I find a job" or "who's hiring". I know there was an issue a while ago where they were trying to pass a law that required that foreign students HAVE a job before the student visas were given out. But I don't know how that went. But anyhow, that's my question. Is that part of the problem?
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                      • #12
                        Re: big changes for street performers

                        I'd find a loophole if I were Bobby. What if you hooked up with one of the businesses and just said you worked for them? Are you no longer classified as a street performer. Your best bet is a loophole.
                        Ken

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                        • #13
                          Re: big changes for street performers

                          Having been a life long visitor to the boards myself, I have to say I agree with pretty much everything said in the above postings. I also wrote a letter the day I created the original post, but I've yet to receive a reply (big surprise huh?).
                          There has definitely been a increase in street performing on the boards in recent years, however I've never noticed this being a problem, and keep in mind this is coming from someone who visits the city every year on the 4th of July! If it's not a problem THAT
                          weekend then when is it?????

                          If anything I believe the recent increase of this type of entertainment has ADDED to the quality of the boardwalk experience - not taken away from it... I'm sure there were some residents (business owners) who issued complaints but I do not believe the average tourist find this to be a problem. AND, ( based on the feed back in this thread) I've seen nothing that would suggest otherwise. Council and Mayer need to start worrying more about what effects tourism and less about gripes from business owners.

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                          • #14
                            Re: big changes for street performers

                            Originally posted by terp84alum

                            I'd find a loophole if I were Bobby. What if you hooked up with one of the businesses and just said you worked for them? Are you no longer classified as a street performer. Your best bet is a loophole.
                            I think this is an excellent idea. That would also attract business for the store since after the crowd is finished watching you, they might be more likely to drift into the shop.

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                            • #15
                              Re: big changes for street performers

                              Originally posted by terp84alum

                              I'd find a loophole if I were Bobby. What if you hooked up with one of the businesses and just said you worked for them? Are you no longer classified as a street performer. Your best bet is a loophole.


                              In theory, that sounds like an excellent idea. But then, would the company have to list him as an employee? Would they have to pay unemployment tax for him? Federal tax records? I know that all sounds silly, but there very well could be proof required from the city by the company that he supposedly works for.

                              It's just a mess and a very stupid idea having a lottery. How about the traffic every morning at City Hall?? If 300 street performers show up every morning for the lottery where will they all park? Will they hold the lottery in the parking lot every morning?

                              I think Bobby had the best solution. An even better one would be that the performer be required to be a full time OC or MD. resident and have to provide proof of residency by means of tax records for the last 3 years or so in addition to a higher license fee.

                              But those are just my opinions.
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