District councillors propose motion to shut down Mong Kok pedestrian zone popular with buskers

Street performer on Sai Yeung Choi Street South. Photo by Vicky Wong.

Four district councillors have proposed a motion to look into shutting down a pedestrian zone in Mong Kok popular with street performers after receiving numerous complaints about noise from the street.

The four councillors — Chan Siu-tong, Francis Chong, Wong Kin-san and Wong Shu-ming from the pro-Beijing Business and Professionals Alliance — said that ever since Sai Yeung Choi Street South was designated a pedestrian zone in 2000, they have received countless complaints about the noise, Headline Daily reports.

According to the newspaper, the number of noise-related complaints in pedestrian zones last year was 1,236, the highest in six years.

Chan added that the noise was also affecting businesses on the busy thoroughfare, and urged the Home Affairs Bureau to look for a suitable location in Hong Kong to reopen the pedestrian zone.

The motion was submitted to the Yau Tsim Mong District Council last week, and the matter will be debated on next Thursday.

Sai Yeung Choi Street South was first designated a pedestrian zone in August 2000 in order to ease rush hour traffic. Vehicles were initially banned from the street from 4pm to 10pm Mondays to Saturdays, and from noon to 10pm on public holidays.

However, the council later voted to reduce the pedestrian zone hours to weekends and public holidays.

The open space soon attracted scores of buskers, street performers and lip-sync battle warriors with their karaoke machines, but the pedestrian zone has since been restricted to weekends and public holidays after residents complained about the noise.

In October, cosmetic store LANEIGE took the dramatic step of installing a noise barrier that would be lowered every time the street performers got too loud.

According to HKFP, the store were forced by the Buildings Department to remove the barrier as it was an illegal structure and no prior approval was given for it to be installed.

In a proposal to boost the city’s street life, a local think tank last month proposed a licensing system to regulate buskers and stop “turf wars” between them.

Love them or hate them, you’ve got to at least give some credit for being colorful characters (see below).

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