Street performers are here to stay in Ocean City, but they don’t have to be inconsiderate imbeciles about it.
Armed with vindication from the courts, street performers, also known as buskers, no longer have to register with the city to set up their demonstrations, sell their wares or perform their musical acts.
The ruling in the lawsuit, filed by a local street performer over strict guidelines imposed on the buskers last summer, has changed Ocean City’s procedures for dealing with them. At a meeting last month, City Solicitor Guy Ayres said the resort has to accept street performers can basically do what they want on the Boardwalk so long as they pass the broad “expressive materials” test.
“It’s something the shop owners up there are going to have to live with,” said Ayres. “The police are going to use discretion about what can be sold and what can’t. Obviously, they can’t sell pizza and sodas.”
The only restriction the city can place on street performers is they cannot set up shop at N. Division Street where the arch is located as a result of emergency access issues.
A couple weeks after that meeting, a situation arose when a spray artist allegedly set up so close to a Boardwalk restaurant that the fumes bothered patrons and eventually led them to leave the business.
With police officers handicapped by the court ruling, the health department was reportedly notified and officials said nothing could be done about because the fumes were produced in the open air. It was apparently more a matter of wind direction.
Not content with that opinion, Ocean City Councilman Doug Cymek filed a complaint with the Maryland Department of Environment and contacted the food services division of the local health department.
“It just bothers me when people can’t go into lunch and enjoy themselves without being annoyed with the fumes from the spray,” he said. “We are looking into what can be done … they continue to disrespect others and create this problem, a problem that requires some action.”
Cymek touched on the major problem here. Knowing they have the constitution and the courts on their side, street performers now feel entitled to do what they want, whenever they want and wherever they want. That’s not a suitable stance to take. Entitlement is often the root of problems in society, and this is a glaring example of that.
We think street performers have no place on the Boardwalk in Ocean City. Some of the more talented folks can impress, but generally they hurt the Boardwalk scene and dirty the resort’s reputation in our view.
They do not add anything to the town and they unfairly don’t need business licenses to make money here, unlike every other reputable business in Ocean City. We hope the Internal Revenue Service is taking a look at some of these performers who odds are do not report the income they receive while seeking tips on the Boardwalk and selling wares.
Unfortunately, the reality is they are going to be there every day and night in the summer, but street performers can’t be permitted to just hurt private enterprise that has to play by a different set of rules. We hope they exercise common sense and courtesy and realize how good they have it in Ocean City, but the chances of that realization are slim.