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Long Beach Seeks to Improve Local Music Scene

City council plans to update regulations on music venues and busking.

Chris+Pleasant+%28left%29+and+Jonny+Strang+%28right%29+perform+with+band+New+American+at+the+Nugget.
Chris Pleasant (left) and Jonny Strang (right) perform with band New American at the Nugget.

Chris Pleasant (left) and Jonny Strang (right) perform with band New American at the Nugget.

Jason Enns | Daily 49er

Jason Enns | Daily 49er

Chris Pleasant (left) and Jonny Strang (right) perform with band New American at the Nugget.

James Chow, Assistant News Editor

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A Long Beach City Councilwoman garnered “oohs” and nods from music fans when introducing an agenda item that aims to improve the Long Beach music scene.

Demonstrators inside the meeting hoisted blue signs with “#LongBeachMusic” in white bold font, and others held some gleaming “Music is Life.”

Jeannine Pearce, councilwoman of the second district, introduced agenda items to try to improve the music scene at Long Beach. These items would request the city manager to report and consider regulations for music venues and street performances.

The report would look at low volume and less-intrusive options for music venues, whether some venues should be exempt to current restrictions such as alcohol, if some events need licensing or fees and music events’ impact on residential areas and permits.

“Some cities exempt businesses that don’t serve alcohol or have an admission charge from having to even apply for an entertainment permit,” Pearce said. “We’re not here to say that there should be no oversight, but that the oversight and the process should match the impact they have, not hold them to the same standards.”

For busking, or street performing, a report will look at items that seek to regulate location and times, volume of street performing acts and balancing inconsistencies with the permit laws.

“Something as simple as waiting for the walk light can turn into a memorable experience,” Pearce said. “So we want to make sure street performing is not commonly looked down upon and that it’s done in areas where we can make sure we are doing great placemaking.”

Pearce detailed a few other struggles the music scene is having. These include venues presenting different genres of music being subject to the same regulations and high permit costs.  A current law requires a permit for street performances in the public right-of-way, however no permit exists.

During public comments, local musician John Surge wants the city to improve its musical roots.

“The idea is – Austin, New Orleans, Seattle – we could be as good as them,” Surge said. “This is a first step. Small venues, two people on the corner playing acoustic guitar and singing harmony, street performers on a beautiful day, colors of sound and colorful clothing and people not asking permission from business owners. We want to be respectful but we also have to realize that musicians have their place.”

Goodhue said he wanted the music to have a time and a place.

“The key to having good music in a neighborhood is to make sure it is appropriately located,” Goodhue said. “There are many areas in our city where music is very problematic many times… it doesn’t make any difference what neighborhood you’re in. Probably 95% of the people do not want to hear when they go into their house at 10:00 at night music pounding for two, three, or four hours coming from a block away.”

Both motions unanimously passed.

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