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LA Considering a Crackdown on Hollywood Boulevard Performers

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Vendors and performers could soon have to get passes to do their thing on the street

The section of Hollywood Boulevard by Highland Avenue is a haven for costumed Spidermen, Jack Sparrows, and Darth Vaders, as well as for people handing out CDs and performing for tips. But the city of LA is currently considering a crack down on how and where these characters, performers, and vendors can congregate, reports the LA Times.

Today, the City Council is scheduled to vote on creating a "Hollywood Entertainment Zone," an area that would include the sidewalks on both sides of Hollywood Boulevard between Orange Drive and Highland. People looking to perform or otherwise ask for money in the zone would have to get one of a limited number of daily passes to do so.

Free speech advocates and performers alike are worried about implications of the zone. A man who appears on the street as Batman and who previously sued the city for arresting similar entertainers agrees that there need to be restrictions for solicitors, but feels that the entertainment zone goes too far, saying that the proposed new rules "would kill the street scene."

But not everyone is into the street scene. Twenty percent of visitors had an unsatisfactory experience on Hollywood Boulevard, according to a 2013 study by the LA Tourism and Convention Board. The most common reason for this bad experience "aggressive and rude" street sellers and performers.

The crowds that gather to watch dancers and take pictures with costumed characters block sidewalks and can make walking through the area a nightmare. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck backs the regulations, in part because it could help keep people moving through the space. He also cited several arrests in the last year alone that involved costumed performers:

In 2015 characters "Mickey Mouse" and "Donald Duck" were involved in a mutual fist fight outside ofthe Dolby Theater while in their costumes. Both were arrested and filed on for battery. In the same year, "Mr. Incredible" was punching "Batgirl" in the face while standing in front of the Chinese Theater.

If the City Council votes to move forward with the proposed zone today, the next step for city lawyers to write a draft ordinance for future, final approval by the council.