Downtown’s sit/lie ordinance continues to stir discussion about sidewalk performers and vendors
Changes made in 2009 to loitering rules on Pacific Avenue—commonly known as Santa Cruz's “sit/lie ordinance”—have some locals asking whether panhandlers and loiterers should be treated differently than artists and merchants.
The rules aim to keep sidewalks clear for walking and entrances to businesses accessible, according to Mayor Ryan Coonerty. However, there is no nuance written in to distinguish between performers and people who choose to hang out with no apparent purpose.
Before 2009, Chapter 5.43 of Santa Cruz Municipal Code made it illegal for anyone to perform or sit within 10 feet of public art, business entrances or kiosks. The new version extended that distance to 14 feet from any business, sculpture or kiosk, and 50 feet from automated teller machines. Without a special events permit from the Parks and Recreation Department, the law also requires people to move 100 feet down the street after one hour. The permits are given for non-commercial events, which puts artists looking to sell their work in a sort of legal limbo. There is not currently a system set up for permitted sales of work except on the basis that it is by donation.