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Florida Keys News
Thursday, March 3, 2011
New rules regulate street performers
Ordinance addresses location, noise, content, insurance

The Key West City Commission approved a new rule to regulate the island's street performers, vendors and artists Tuesday, despite objections from some who will be affected by the changes.

Commissioner Jimmy Weekley has been working with the Duval Street Committee to draft the changes, and on Tuesday brought forth an ordinance that is similar to the one he presented but then withdrew three months ago.

It requires performers and artists to pay a $150 permitting fee that classifies them as either a performer or vendor. They also must have $300,000 in insurance coverage for property damage or bodily injury and are limited in the areas in which they can perform.

The commission also made one change to Weekley's proposal by prohibiting amplified music.

Patrick Stecher, a wire sculptor who spoke on behalf of the street performers' association, said the group is exploring the possibility of a group insurance plan, but there are challenges. Some performers questioned the insurance requirement, saying there have been no reported injuries caused by a performer or "anyone tripping over their dog." The artists and performers also asked why scooters do not need insurance, when they have the potential to cause much more damage and more serious injuries.

Some performers asked the commission to postpone the vote, saying they were not aware that the item was on the agenda.

Weekley told them he previously had announced he would raise the issue at the first meeting in March.

Stecher said he and others may draft some potential amendments to the ordinance and present them to the commission on March 15, when it is expected to vote on the second and final public reading of the ordinance.

The first reading passed 6-1, with the mayor dissenting. Mayor Craig Cates said he did not think the insurance requirement was fair.

mmiles@keysnews.com

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