Laguna Beach finalizes new street performer rules, greeter can stay on his corner

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Michael Minutoli took on the role of Laguna’s greeter more than 10 years ago. City leaders promise he can continue waving under the new street performer regulations launching in August. File Photo

Laguna Beach will start new regulations of street performers on Aug. 26 but city officials say the greeter can still wave at visitors from his traditional street corner.

Following a unanimous procedural vote by the City Council on Tuesday, the new law blocks buskers and other street performers from working between 9 p.m. and 11 a.m. Performers must also be at least 10 feet from any bus stop, street corner, crosswalk, or business or residential entrance. Performers cannot use public benches or trash cans.

The City Council originally signed off on these new rules on June 15. But after an upwelling of public support for greeter Michael Minutoli, councilmembers delayed a final vote until city staffers could share more details on their enforcement.

Councilmember George Weiss asked city staffers to share a list of locations in Downtown Laguna where street performances could still be held. So they brought their tape measures around town.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Cultural Arts Manager Siân Poeschl presented a map of six downtown sites open to buskers. She noted other sites could be eligible.

  • Outside the downtown U.S. Post Office
  • Parking Lot 2, also known as the Peppertree lot between Forest and Ocean avenues.
  • South of the Wells Fargo building on Ocean Avenue.
  • Glenneyre Street and Forest Avenue.
  • Forest Lane and South Coast Highway
  • Southwest corner of South Coast Highway and Laguna Avenue.

She also highlighted Coast Highway and Anita Street as a possible street performance site. City parks remain open to street performers under the new law.

Lt. Jim Cota, a spokesperson for Laguna Beach police, said the department’s first step will be informing officers on the specifics of this new city law.

“We’ll start with an educational approach to give street performers the opportunity to move on,” Cota said Wednesday.

In June, Councilmember Toni Iseman suggested the City Council consider this measure saying Minutoli was potentially a “major distraction” for drivers in a busy intersection. She immediately followed this comment, saying Main Beach was a more suitable location.

“I certainly don’t have a problem with the greeter and I don’t have a problem with Michael,” Iseman said. “But I have seen some near [traffic collision] misses. … I think we have to watch out when things get into traffic.”

Assistant City Manager Ken Domer said Tuesday that Minutoli could continue his volunteer effort as the greeter at Brooks Street and South Coast Highway because his usual spot is at least 10 feet from a marked sidewalk.

Moving on from the greeter, Iseman recalled a saxophonist who played for hours on Forest Avenue about six years ago.

“Someone was playing a saxophone who couldn’t play very well and was standing on Forest Avenue and wouldn’t leave,” Iseman said. “It was interrupting the lives of the customers and the employees and so forth. Are we confirming this is OK?”

Performers who apply to use the stage within the Promenade on Forest Avenue have up to three hours, Poeschl said. Beyond this space, street performers are free to do their work between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Michael McFadden, owner of Rock Martin Custom Jewelry, said even though he’s a music lover and musician, listening to a keyboardist or steel drummer play outside his store for up to seven hours starts to wear on him. Street performers will also sit on a green mosaic snail shell even though families like to climb on it and enjoy a snack. Over the years, he’s paid musicians to move down the street.

“I don’t mean to be grumpy about musicians,” McFadden said. “People have a right to express themselves in any way.”

1 COMMENT

  1. The Greeter abides!

    And please, Toni, worrying about a single bad musician lingering on Forest from a few years ago? Maybe he’s gotten some lessons. As for disturbing the lives of customers and employees, isn’t that exactly what this new law prevents? They can only play in designated spots and can’t be near a business. Stop the fear!

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