San Jose Street Musician Calls Out Super Bowl Week Vendor Ban

San Jose Street Musician Calls Out Super Bowl Week Vendor Ban

Story tools

A A AResize


UPDATE: "City officials acknowledge handing out fliers to peddlers and other vendors but deny telling street performers or musicians they couldn't play."

Walt Hansen is a veteran, a San Jose legend, and well known street musician who has played his flute for years all around town with a hat out for donations. Recently, he was handed an ordinance telling him that he will not be allowed to earn his living during the upcoming Super Bowl 50 week.


I am a resident of San Jose, I work here, I sleep here. I am part of San Jose. Some of the people that are reading this may know me. I believe some of the people that know me may say I am a kind hearted, friendly, contributing member of society. They may say that what I bring to San Jose is noteworthy, that I enhance the area of downtown San Jose. To those people, I most humbly say, thank you very much for your kind words.

The occupation that I have found myself in is that of a street musician. I stand in various locations in downtown San Jose and play a flute. My music ranges from pop to jazz. I’ve been told by many that it improves the atmosphere, and adds that ‘extra something’ to the place. I drop a hat at my feet and live off what donations are placed there. I never ask for a dime, not one. I also refuse to ask for social services help. Not food stamps, nothing. Welfare wasn’t meant for people like me. Welfare was meant for mothers with children, not for people that are capable of standing and hustling out a living out of what’s there.

Recently I was handed a notice of an ordinance that’s going into effect for the upcoming Super Bowl 50 week. This ordinance states that I will not be able to legally play anywhere in downtown San Jose from approximately February 2nd through February 9th. I suggest to you, that this is a decision that needs to be re-examined. Is this the way you wish to treat the people that make San Jose their home the other 51 weeks of the year?

The notion that the powers that be of San Jose would tell me, a veteran, that asks for nothing and does contribute to the city of San Jose, that I am not welcome to earn a living during one of the biggest celebrations in the country, is beyond belief.

San Jose is telling me, "We’re having a party, please stay away." San Jose is telling me, "You’re not good enough for us." San Jose is telling me, "We don’t care that you served your country, we don’t care that you add to the flavor of downtown day in and day out." San Jose is telling me, "Go to hell!"

So Mayor Liccardo, council members of San Jose, National Football League, Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, are you going to tell a normally accepted member of downtown San Jose that he can stand outside and look in, but please don’t expect to be welcomed at your party?

I welcome discussion on this subject. Feel free to walk up to me while I’m out playing music, and I’ll certainly listen to your point of view. I can regularly be found in various spots on the Paseo de San Antonio, and a few other spots.

I am personable enough, if the various interviews and questions I’ve had are any proof. I want to be part of this city. I enjoy downtown San Jose, and many residents of downtown have enjoyed what I do. Do the right thing, Mayor Liccardo and make it legal for me to play in downtown during this celebration.

For more information on the "Clean Zone" Ordinance click on link.
This was originally posted as an open letter to the Mayor of San Jose on Walt’s Blog:

Walt Hansen