Nevada City OK’s busking guidelines |

Nevada City OK’s busking guidelines

Longtime Nevada City resident and street musician Dode McDermott walks between locations Thursday afternoon with his guitar strapped to his back. Dode, who says he's always respectful and moves out of the way if need be, says that street musicians help add to the vibe of Nevada City's downtown.
Elias Funez/

Nevada City’s city council has approved a set of guidelines for street performers, after earlier deciding against an ordinance regulating busking.

City staff had brought the proposed busking ordinance to the city council in April, proposing a permit that would cost $10 a quarter. The ordinance had been suggested by a local musician who said some regulation was needed because newcomers/visitors don’t adhere to the unwritten rules followed by the local buskers.

Mayor Duane Strawser supported the concept, saying would-be trimmers who come to town and can’t find work often turn to panhandling with an instrument. Other council members were hesitant to enact an ordinance, and instead suggested the city start with guidelines and see whether street performers would comply.

On Wednesday, city staff returned with a set of proposed guidelines that would prohibit street performers from blocking sidewalks or the entrances to buildings and from using public benches or other seating for busking. Performers would have to stay at least 50 feet away from other street performers, could not remain at any one location longer than two hours and then would need to move at least 100 feet away, not returning to the former location for at least two hours.

No amplification, no fire and no drums or percussion instruments would be allowed and busking would be permitted no earlier than 10 a.m. and no later than 10 p.m.

Council member David Parker continued to question the need to police buskers, and said he didn’t think the guidelines were enforceable.

“I don’t think we need this,” he said. “It seems ridiculous.”

Strawser disagreed, saying musicians and merchants felt it was necessary.

“We have laws because people can’t control themselves or patrol themselves,” he said.

The guidelines passed 3 to 2, with Parker and council member Evans Phelps voting no and Strawser, Valerie Moberg and Reinette Senum voting yes.

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

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