Proposed Ordinance Seeks to Address Concerns About Street Performers at Fremont Street Experience

A new ordinance could address ongoing concerns related to street performers at Fremont Street Experience.

On July 29, 2015, Las Vegas City Councilmen Ricki Barlow and Bob Coffin, in conjunction with Executive Director Tod Story of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada (ACLU) and Fremont Street Experience President Jeff Victor, announced a set of proposed standards for a new city ordinance that addresses how street performers (also known as “buskers”) may interact and express themselves within the public area of Fremont Street Experience.

News conference
Among those at the news conference were (from left) the ACLU’s Executive Director Tod Story, Fremont Street Experience President Jeff Victor, Las Vegas City Attorney Brad Jerbic and Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Coffin.

The proposed ordinance is the result of months of collaboration between City Council members, the ACLU, Fremont Street Experience and its member hotel-casinos, as well as buskers who perform or pose for photos for tips on the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian mall.

“Fremont Street Experience hosts approximately 15 million visitors a year and we are always striving to bring our guests the best experience in a safe and exciting environment,” said Jeff Victor, President of Fremont Street Experience. “We have been diligently working with a variety of constituencies for this ordinance and we are pleased to have reached an agreement on this proposed ordinance.”

Jeff Victor
Fremont Street Experience President Jeff Victor fields questions from reporters at the news conference announcing the proposed ordinance.

The new ordinance seeks to address a number of concerns expressed by Las Vegas visitors and downtown Las Vegas businesses, including public safety, congestion of pedestrian walkways, excessive noise and aggressive tip solicitation. Many of the buskers who perform on Fremont Street were included in the process of formulating the new ordinance which will be presented to the Las Vegas City Council on August 5, 2015.

A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, September 2, 2015.

Busker
Many visitors mistakenly believe buskers and costumed characters are employed by Fremont Street Experience or otherwise screened. Not the case.

The proposed ordinance for Fremont Street Experience was inspired by a similar set of guidelines used at the popular Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California, although with some differences.

The new ordinance, if approved, seeks to address the “time, place and manner” of street performances on Fremont Street.

Some highlights include:

  • Between 3:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. each day, street performers must be in designated areas.
  • During those times, street performers may not stay in their locations for more than two consecutive hours.
  • Performers must register with the city and Fremont Street Experience in order to continue to use the designated performance areas.
  • Registration is free and is good for 180 days.
  • Performers will be at least 40 feet apart.

When a Fremont Street Experience stage is not in operation, there will be up to 38 designated performer zones, each six feet in diameter, and 27 zones when a concert or event is occurring on stage.

During the process of developing the proposed street performer ordinance, care was taken to ensure the rights of buskers practicing free speech will not be infringed upon.

Tod Story, Executive Director of American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, commented, “We are pleased to have reached this proposed ordinance alongside the Fremont Street Experience executives and the City of Las Vegas that preserves the First Amendment Rights of street performers while creating an orderly experience for patrons of Fremont Street Experience. This ordinance recognizes the rights of expression, the right to assemble, the right to speak and a visitor’s right to be entertained on their terms.

Las Vegas City Attorney Brad Jerbic said, “Our direction in the creation of this proposed city ordinance was to recognize the fundamental right of speech under our U.S. Constitution as well as to create a safer and more enjoyable environment for tourists and locals alike at Fremont Street Experience.”

Elvis busker
Fremont Street is privately managed, but a public street.

There’s been nationwide coverage of the announcement of the proposed ordinance related to street performers at Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas. A few are listed below.

We’d love to hear your comments! What have your experiences been with buskers and costumed characters here at Fremont Street Experience?