Taming Las Vegas street performances tabled until Sept. 16

AP News
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Posted: Sep 02, 2015 8:01 PM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A proposal to tame the often rowdy and revealing gauntlet of downtown Las Vegas entertainers will get more time for city leaders to craft the rules.

The Las Vegas City Council voted Wednesday to continue discussing the proposal at its next Sept. 16 meeting that would set up at least 38 zones, six-feet in diameter, where performers would entertain for tips during peak hours. If approved, it's expected to take effect Nov. 1.

City Attorney Brad Jerbic said street performers wishing to perform along Fremont Street's casino-lined pedestrian mall in the zones between 3 p.m. and 1 a.m. would have to register at no cost and provide identification that would be on file but not given to law enforcement unless a criminal complaint was made against the person.

The proposed ordinance also doesn't dictate what a performer might wear or otherwise not wear in the case of comically revealing costumes.

That didn't stop council members from suggesting the registration information be used to weed out felons and sex offenders or limit entertainment they thought was offensive.

"A lot of the women look like they just walked out of a strip club," said Councilman Ricki Barlow, who proposed the ordinance, adding that he didn't think that falls in the category of First Amendment protections. "I love art, but I just don't consider that to be artistic in any way."

Both background checks and restricting what a person would wear would violate a person's Constitutional rights, said Tod Story, director of Nevada's ACLU chapter.

Story's organization has been working on the proposal with the city to make the ordinance more about where performers can entertain versus where they can't, which has led to confusion and competition among performers who stake out prime spots along the thoroughfare.

"We're almost there," Story said, noting that the organization would like to see as many zones established as possible. He said the city is still deciding if spaces will be reserved or allocated via a lottery system. Story prefers the latter for fairness.

Dozens of people who, when on Fremont Street, are impersonators, balloon artists, musicians and sometimes scantily clad street performers, told the council they worry the proposal might destroy their livelihoods, violate their rights to free speech, fail to do enough to curb a chaotic, competitive environment and cause more animosity among performers all vying for 38 spaces. Some complained about fellow performers who bare it all.

Ray Rosedale, a Las Vegas resident who isn't a performer but is working on a reality show about street performers, told the council that the downtown Las Vegas' near-nudity comes with the territory and recommended they stand behind the scantily-clad entertainers some time to get a good view of the smiling and laughing tourists who enjoy it.

"If you've got kids, take them to Disney World," he said.