Boardwalk lottery stays, city implements later start dateDespite complaints from performers, assigned space system set to begin May 15
(April 21, 2017) Ocean City Council will stay the course on its Boardwalk performer lottery system this year, although there will be a slight date change.
The council voted during the April 3 regular session to amend the start date of regulations that assign Boardwalk performer spaces to May 15. Last year, lottery drawings started on April 25. Now that the council signed off on the ordinance’s amendment, the first lottery will be held on May 8 in City Hall.
Last summer, the lottery assigned 33 spaces from Ninth Street south for Boardwalk performers between May 1 to Sept. 15.
In a memorandum to city officials last month, City Clerk Diana Chavis and the Boardwalk Task Force found fewer performers signed up in early May as compared to after Memorial Day. The lottery drawings on April 25 and May 2, that determined spaces for the following weeks, recorded 11 and 15 participants, respectively.
“I realize [changing the start date] is a conservative change, but it parallels the Sept. 15 date and it’s prior to Memorial Day, which is the start to our season,” Chavis said during the March 14 work session.
Leading up to Memorial Day, that number swelled to 20 performers. At the summer’s height, 32 performers participated in the lottery.
The slight alteration was not what some Boardwalk buskers wanted, as throughout the summer some complained that they could be placed next to similar, rival acts by luck of the draw. Other detractors like Al “Pops” Wendling of Ocean Pines repeatedly spoke at council sessions leading up to the amendment, arguing that several spots were not close handicap-accessible bathrooms.
Chavis disputed this in her report to council, pointing out there were three comfort stations on Worcester Street, Caroline Street and Ninth Street.
“There are 11 spaces in front of or one block away from a comfort station. In addition, the street end on 10th Street is one block from a comfort station and available on a first come, first serve basis,” she wrote in the memorandum. “To date, one performer requested a space near a comfort station, and I am not aware of an occasion where he could not perform due to the lack of accessible restroom facilities.”
Buskers are also allowed to share spaces, which would help those who need quick access to restrooms. However, not many performers used this option in 2016.
Other issues performers raised were that Ocean City Police would cite buskers for leaving for a bathroom break, as the ordinance states that performers can leave their items unattended in their spot for 15 minutes. Chavis reported that officers use discretion in those instances.
Spots north of Ninth Street still operate on a “first come, first serve” system.
As the council passed the amendment on second reading last month, lottery drawings will start on May 8 at 9:30 a.m. in City Hall.