Street performers striving to be heard
The Santa Monica City Council has enacted new restrictions on Third Street Promenade performers in an effort to reduce noise levels. Although the Third Street Promenade is protected by the First Amendment, its management company, the Bayside District Corporation, considers the noise levels to be beyond an appropriate intensity.
"The noise levels are completely assaulting. It's just simply too loud," Bayside's CEO Kathleen Rawson told the Los Angeles Times. "One thing that we know for sure is that the noise level has to be reduced."
"It's a matter of managing it for the public safety and the public comfort while still preserving their first amendment right," said the city's Economic Development Manager Miriam Mack.
Many performers disagree with the management's position and are upset that what they say is an intrusion on their First Amendment rights.
While anyone is allowed to perform, they must first obtain a permit and pay a fee
"They are charging us all this money to express the First Amendment," said Promenade guitarist Blaze Blandrix.
"I had to pay $37 to get a permit. The way it works is, you have $37, you're in. If not, then leave, get the money and come back," he said.
Rules to stop the noise altogether would be considered an unconstitutional act, even limiting the sound "could be interpreted as an impediment to free expression," according to the Santa Monica Daily Press.
Promenade vocalist Sophia Bella thinks that this argument is futile. "No matter how low we turn the volume down, there will always be people complaining," she said.
Bella continues, "If you want quiet, have it somewhere else and don't come to the Promenade."
Though it's mainly musicians who are being affected by the lowered amplifier decibels – which reaches 107 dbl – dancers are also speaking out against Bayside District Corp.
Performers across the spectrum feel their freedom of speech is being limited by creating these regulations.
Michael, from the Promenade Dance and Flip crew said, "For dancers and flippers like us, pretty much we're not allowed to do anything. No volunteers, no interacting with the crowd."
"What's loud to them is like what's loud in a bedroom. People can't hear that outside," said Memphis of the same crew. "We're artists, and I like to express what I've got. They should think these new rules over before putting them through."