Artists one step closer to final settlement

The settlement between the City of St Augustine and the plaintiff artists, Bruce Kevin Bates, Elena Hecht, Kate Merrick, and Helena Sala, has moved one step closer to final approval by the St Augustine City Commission.

Historic City News reported that there was, in fact, a “Settlement of artists lawsuit in the offing“, published nearly a month ago on August 5, 2017.  During a shade meeting prior to Monday night’s St Augustine City Commission meeting, out of the public eye, the City’s legal eagles received support for the terms of the settlement as we originally reported.

The last step will be to air the required City Code changes at an upcoming meeting and to hear public comment.  These are the terms as explained by the City Attorney and Assistant City Attorney to the media:

  • Spaces in the Plaza de la Constitution market, which are now used by commercial vendors, would be reserved only for First Amendment expressive activity such as creating art or performing. However, performers could create and sell something such as a piece of art. Twelve spaces also reserved only for First Amendment expressive activity will be added under an overhang at the city parking garage, and they’ll be available via the same lottery system used for the plaza. Commercial vendors will keep their existing spaces in the area.
  • Getting a space for performing via the lottery will cost $25 instead of $75. People can apply for a waiver.
  • Performers won’t have to follow mobile vending rules such as insurance coverage and permitting.
  • Rules for peddlers (those who move from place to place to sell) will be repealed. They weren’t being enforced anyway.
  • Rules for the plaza west of St. George Street will be repealed because the city doesn’t control it — it’s in possession of the state and managed by the University of Florida.
  • Florida League of Cities, the city’s former insurance carrier, will pay $50,000 in attorney’s fees as well as mediation fees.
  • George Street and the Plaza de la Constitution regulations, like those restricting or prohibiting performances, will remain in effect.

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