Thursday, March 29, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Surveillance cameras and more police could be coming to the Strip if the county adopts the proposals of casino execs and county staff looking at ways to clean up trash and cut down on the chaos along Nevada’s most valuable real estate.
Those ideas might be costly but aren’t likely to generate much controversy. Another proposal might — adopting a code establishing “time, place and manner” restrictions on First Amendment activities on Las Vegas Boulevard. Such a code would affect adult-oriented businesses that hire handbillers, a target of criticism from politicians and some tourists.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada said Wednesday that it will sue if the county attempts to adopt speech restrictions.
“That would not only be unconstitutional, it would show they are operating in really bad faith given the discussions we have had,” ACLU general counsel Allen Lichtenstein said. “Hopefully, (county officials) will talk to us first.”
County commissioners Wednesday will consider adopting the report containing the Resort Corridor Workgroup’s recommendations. The group, which met 13 times over the past six months, included Strip casino executives, Las Vegas police and the Nevada Resort Association, with assistance from Clark County staff.
Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who proposed the working group shortly after the deaths of five people on the Strip over 11 days in June and July, said the commission will act in the interest of public safety and to make the Strip more visitor-friendly.
Here are some of the group’s recommendations:
Make all news racks for adult-oriented publications identical. They’re currently different colors — bright red or yellow — and sizes.
Clark County would buy the racks from private operators and force publishers to use them.
Without irony, the group recommends placing trash cans next to news racks.
Sidewalks and trash cans
More than a year ago, county commissioners toured the Strip and remarked how trash cans overflowed with garbage and sidewalks were sticky from spilled drinks.
The working group suggests the county increase sidewalk cleaning, likely power-washing, from three to four times a week, plus after special events such as New Year’s Eve. It also recommends more frequent trash removal.
Pedestrian bridge ordinance
Pedestrian bridges, where the homeless and panhandlers often station themselves to ask for money, would be targeted with an ordinance that would ban “stopping or standing” while clarifying that the bridges “are for the prompt and safe movement of pedestrians.” The ordinance would have to be approved by the County Commission.
Another complaint about the Strip has been an increase in unlicensed vendors since the recession began. Some sell bottled water; some dress up in costumes and try to get tourists to take pictures with them for money.
The working group said the county should adopt an ordinance “that clearly states it is unlawful to engage in commercial activity in the public right-of-way.”
It also suggests using civil penalties — tickets and fines — instead of the current method of criminal prosecution for business license violations.
If funding is available, Metro Pollice should add a closed-circuit television system along the Strip and hire staff to monitor it. Sisolak said there should be funding for the cameras, which could tie into casino security systems.
The group recommends putting more police on the Strip. During certain periods last summer, some casinos paid Metro to do just that. This might be the most important recommendation but also the costliest.
Because the Strip is a tax revenue generator for the state, not just Clark County, Sisolak said figuring out how to pay for more police should be the concern of all local governments.
“Everybody’s going to have to come up with something,” Sisolak said. “But will Las Vegas pay? Will Henderson? Will North Las Vegas? It’s going to be challenging.”
The group recommends studying the establishment of a night court to handle offenses that frequently occur on the Strip. “The purpose of the (court) would be to expedite the adjudication of offenders in a prompt and consistent manner,” the report says.
It also suggests sending representatives of Metro and the District Attorney’s Office to Philadelphia to see how their night/nuisance court operates.