ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Amid the hustle and bustle of tourists taking in the Santa Fe plaza's sights is a beautiful sound.
Tony Avila is playing his harp in the center of the famous square with a small tip bucket sitting in front of his instrument of choice.
"It makes the plaza authentic because it is wild," Avila said. "You can't control it, man."
Avila is one of more than 200 licensed street performers, or buskers, in Santa Fe. It's a number that's steadily gone up in recent years. Avila believes his music and the music of others is part of the fabric that makes the plaza special.
"[People] come here for the food, for the art, for the music, the culture," Avila said.
But Santa Fe city councilor Chris Calvert says many of them are more of a nuisance, blocking sidewalks and business entrances in what is often nothing more than thinly-veiled solicitation.
Calvert says downtown Santa Fe business owners are complaining about it.
"There's been a lot of complaints about being harassed or not free to move around especially in the plaza area without being confronted by a busker," Calvert said.
Calvert's introduced legislation that would ban buskers from almost all of downtown Santa Fe, including the plaza itself. Instead, performers would be restricted to five areas around the plaza where, effectively, only one busker could perform at a time.
Calvert says limiting the areas will help make the city's ordinance more enforceable.
"If we have specific places, everybody has a better idea of when they're in compliance with the law and when they're not," Calvert said.
The proposal would also prevent performers from using public power sources or generators, increase the required distance between buskers and make it illegal for any noise from the performance to be heard from more than 100 feet away.
Calvert says he believes the restrictive ordinance is constitutional based on court rulings surrounding a similar law in St. Augustine, Fla.
Avila says he'd understand limiting noise or banning amplifiers, but adds that kicking him off the plaza altogether simply isn't fair.
"It's my own freedom of speech," Avila said. "Am I not allowed to play music for free on the plaza? Because I'm going to contest that."
The proposal is set to get its first committee hearing in a little less than two weeks.
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