Nevada City looks to regulate street performers |

Nevada City looks to regulate street performers

Harmony might well be in the ear of the listener. But Nevada City could take a stab in the near future at regulating the aesthetic qualities of its downtown streets, with a proposed busking ordinance.

Busking is a fancy name for musicians who perform in the street for money.

On Wednesday, city staff brought a proposed busking ordinance to the city council meeting, which proposed a permit that would cost $10 a quarter.

Street performers would be prohibited from blocking sidewalks or entrances to buildings; could not perform on private property with permission from the owner; shall stay at least 50 feet away from other street performers; cannot remain at any one location longer than two hours and then shall move at least 100 feet away; and cannot perform before 10 a.m. or after 10 p.m. Sound from street performers cannot be plainly audible from 50 feet away, and performers cannot use fire, spray paint or aerosol.

“I didn’t realize this was such an issue,” commented Mayor Duane Strawser, adding that most cities he researched have such an ordinance. “It’s unfortunate we have to look at regulation rather than musicians dealing with this themselves.”

Strawser said would-be trimmers who come to town and can’t find work often turn to panhandling with an instrument.

“They’re not really musicians,” he said.

Several council members were hesitant to enact an ordinance, suggesting the city start with guidelines and see whether street performers would comply.

“I don’t get it — why do we need to legislate competitiveness?” council member David Parker said.

The city council made no decision Wednesday, opting to send the issue back to staff for more research.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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