The Great Morgani Has Left the Building
Let me first say that I love The Great Morgani, that I consider him a Santa Cruz institution and treasure, and hope he reconsiders his decision to “retire” from playing on Pacific Avenue. It’s a resolution where nobody wins.
The Santa Cruz City Council, under pressure from downtown merchants and the community at large, enacted stricter requirements as part of an effort to make the downtown environment more attractive and compelling for merchants. Being that this is Santa Cruz of course, a small group of people took it upon themselves to declare war on this new ordinance. They held protests in front of Pacific avenue businesses, basically flipping off the city by daring the city to enforce the policy. They made the situation worse for themselves by this overreaching “civil disobedience”, and inevitably, this fringe group of people would ultimately disrupt the situation for legitimate street artists and performers that didn’t align with them politically.
In the most simple of terms, this is simply about rules. And following rules. Something that Pacific Avenue street artists and performers haven’t had to deal with. Before the new ordinance went into effect, there were rules concerning street performance and art display along Pacific Avenue. They just were never enforced.
What happens when you have an environment where rules are never enforced? People see an opportunity to take advantage of a lack of rules. And order. And a lack of order creates chaos. And that’s exactly what happened here, and what drove the city council to take drastic measures to try to improve a situation that was spinning out of control.
In Boulder, Colorado, the equivalent of Pacific Avenue is Pearl Street. And this is how they deal with street performance and street vendors. With rules. And permits. And order. Not chaos. Not anything goes. Not anyone with a box being able to camp in front of your door all day interfering with access to your business. Boulder is a pretty hip and liberal town. On an ideological scale, I’d say they are equal to Santa Cruz. Yet they are able to enforce some simple rules that work for everyone. Why can’t we?
It’s all about rules. The downtown merchants (and the community at large) want some. A small group of people don’t. They don’t because they haven’t had to play by any rules up to now. Pacific Avenue has been a free for all for longer than I’ve lived downtown (12 years and counting). I would hope artists like The Great Morgani can see past the personal frustrations of having to play by certain rules, but like I always say, you get what you are willing to tolerate. If you can’t tolerate playing by the rules, I guess you can walk away, retire, play elsewhere. Everyone loses. Or you could just turn around. Because too many people can’t tolerate certain people not playing by the rules anymore.