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Stopping, standing on Strip pedestrian bridges banned

Updated January 2, 2024 - 6:49 pm

Stopping on Strip pedestrian bridges could now result in a misdemeanor conviction.

Clark County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an ordinance prohibiting individuals from stopping, standing or engaging in an activity that causes another person to stop on Strip pedestrian bridges or near escalators, elevators or stairways connected to the bridges.

Commissioner Jim Gibson said the ordinance aims to “keep every pedestrian — that would move along those bridges and down the elevators — safe.”

But the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada has opposed the new law and threatened litigation.

“This is simply another action by the government to undercut the First Amendment,” the organization’s executive director, Athar Haseebullah, said in a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal after the meeting. “Making criminals out of ordinary Nevadans stopping for a mere moment on the pedestrian bridges they fund as taxpayers is lunacy.”

Under the new law, any person who stops in “pedestrian flow zones,” which include the bridges and up to 20 feet surrounding the connected stairs or escalators, could be charged with a misdemeanor.

“This is not interpreted to mean that tourists and locals cannot take photos along the Boulevard while on a pedestrian bridge, but rather is intended to maintain the safe and continuous movement of pedestrians on the bridges to ensure pedestrian safety on the bridges,” the county said in a statement.

A last-minute amendment to the ordinance provides an exemption for anyone who is waiting to use an elevator, stairway or escalator.

The measure, which cites a report by UNLV criminal justice professor William Sousa, is meant to increase public safety by ensuring a continuous flow of pedestrian traffic across the bridges.

According to the report, disorder increased on the Strip from 2018 to 2022, and Las Vegas police receive a disproportionate number of calls related to disorderly conduct on pedestrian bridges.

Undersheriff Andrew Walsh said the ordinance would “greatly diminish” crime and disorder on the bridges.

“We’ve seen large crowds on bridges during major events,” Walsh said. “It’s very difficult for officers to get onto those bridges and to maintain order.”

The law applies to all pedestrian bridges in the resort corridor, which stretches from Russell Road to Sahara Avenue. The county will place signs designating the zones to alert the public of the restrictions.

Nevada Resort Association President Virginia Valentine also spoke in support of the ordinance, which she said could prevent injuries should there be a need for quick evacuation or access by first responders.

The ACLU previously submitted a letter in opposition to the measure, and it was signed onto by SEIU Local 1107, Make the Road Nevada and NAACP Las Vegas. Haseebullah also spoke out against the ordinance at Tuesday’s commission meeting.

UNLV Boyd Law School professor Eve Hanan told commissioners that the ordinance takes an issue about urban planning and crowd control and “makes it a criminal matter.”

A county spokeswoman said the new ordinance will take effect in two weeks. A misdemeanor conviction carries a penalty of up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

When asked by Gibson if the ordinance would have an effect on street performers, a staff member said they would still be able to perform on the street level, or on pedestrian bridges as long as they continue walking.

Deliberations on the proposal were originally planned for commissioners’ Dec. 5 meeting, but the vote was delayed.

The measure was introduced on Nov. 22.

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on X.

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