Houston rescinds its anti-busking ordinance

Good call.

Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

Houston formally abandoned an ordinance Wednesday that banned buskers throughout most of the city, four months after it was struck down by a federal judge.

For decades, Houston made busking — musicians and other artists performing on streets for cash tips — illegal throughout most of the city. In 1991, it confined the performances only to the Theater District, and required interested performers to obtain a permit.

Federal Judge Alfred H. Bennett declared that legal framework unconstitutional in December, ruling the ordinances violated the First Amendment.

Instead of appealing the ruling, City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to drop those portions of its code. The council passed the repeal measure as part of its consent agenda, meaning it was not considered individually.

The request for council action said Houston Public Works would receive “at most” one permit application a year.

See here, here, and here for the background. After the ruling, the city’s response was to amend the ordinance in question, and I suppose it took some time to arrive at the final dimensions of that amendment. May have been a bit slow, but I think they did the right thing here. Good on them for that.

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2 Responses to Houston rescinds its anti-busking ordinance

  1. Paul Kubosh says:

    Agreed. You know I wish you had a like/dislike button on your stories.

  2. Jason Hochman says:

    There should be a requirement that you know at least 30 songs, and have your instrument in tune. That guy who is out there playing “Mr Bojangles” over and over again drives me crazy. After hearing only that song for a few hours straight makes me want to put enough money in his guitar case to make him stop for the day.

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