Clark County Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously passed an amendment to an ordinance that previously allowed judges to ban drug dealers and prostitutes from re-entering the Las Vegas Strip for up to a year. The amended ordinance now extends that possible ban to criminals convicted of any felony or misdemeanor. Violating the ban would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison and/or a $1,000 fine.
The ordinance will be enacted “in the next couple of months,” according to Clark County Commissioner Jim Gordon, who introduced it in response to a 15.8% jump in total crime last year on the Strip. (The Strip lies not in the City of Las Vegas, but the unincorporated Clark County town of Paradise, Nev.)
“The whole idea here is to give the courts another tool to assist us in keeping the criminal element of the boulevard,” Gibson said at the meeting.
Tourism Associations Pushed
The amendment received a big push from Las Vegas tourism associations, whose representatives urged a yes vote from commissioners at the meeting.
“We view this as a very important public safety tool,” said Virginia Valentine with the Nevada Resorts Association. “We want our visitors, our guests, our employees to feel safe in the resort corridor.”
Added Lori Nelson-Kraft with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors’ Authority: “The public health and safety of our visitors is of the utmost importance and our visitors having a positive and safe experience is our top priority.”
Affect on Street Performers, Homeless
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) previously expressed concern about the possible disproportionate effect this amendment would have on homeless people and street performers. An ACLU spokesperson told KVVU-TV last week that the ban would encourage businesses to report all homeless people and street performers, hoping to either get them banned or locked up for violating previous bans.
The Clark County law governing the Strip considers “sleeping upon the public sidewalk” and “obstructing, delaying, hindering, blocking, hampering, or interfering with pedestrian passage” both to be crimes. And this law has been used to remove homeless people and street performers.
“We are not out to get street performers,” Gibson said at the meeting. “We are out to get people who are committing crimes. When you think about the way we are addressing homelessness, it is more about trying to figure out how to respond to their needs, how to get them into housing.”
‘Order Out’ Corridor Redefined
As part of the amendment, the commission redrew its map of the corridor it defines by deleting Tropicana Avenue east of The Strip, which contains only residential apartments, and extending it a block west of Arville Street to include the Orleans Hotel & Casino. The boundaries remain Sahara Avenue in the north and Russell Road in the south.
Crimes possible to be convicted of on the Las Vegas Strip include carrying an open glass container of alcohol, smoking marijuana, feeding pigeons and even cursing. (Read 15 of the Weirdest Laws in Las Vegas.)
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