The more I’ve been thinking about the situation on the Strip, the more I’m convinced that those who have a major stake in the continued viability of the Strip as a walkable pedestrian thoroughfare really need a better response to the performers/panhandlers/salespeople who are crowding out the tourists. So I wrote an open letter to the Nevada Resort Association, the body that represents the state’s gaming and resort industry, in the latest Las Vegas Business Press:
As a rule I don’t write open letters; I’ll leave that to someone with an axe to grind, whether it’s because their neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking or mind control rays are seeping through their artfully constructed tin-foil hat. In the next few paragraphs I don’t want to raise a grievance, just encourage a robust discussion of an issue that’s important to the economic health of Nevada.
To put it bluntly, the situation on the Strip and downtown with costumed “performers” and other assorted smut peddlers, water, liquor and drug salesmen, and even three-card monte hustlers intimidating and preying on passers-by has gone from nuisance to menace. It’s getting difficult to walk very far–whether it’s on the sidewalk or on the pedestrian bridges that link major properties — without being hassled.
via Las Vegas Business Press :: Opinion : Street ‘performers’ should be checked, regulated.
What bugs me is that the NRA was able to lobby the Clark County Commission for a change in the law that basically criminalized Dotty’s, the slot parlor/tavern chain that 99% of visitors to Vegas will never set foot in, but it has been mum when it comes to the deteriorating condition of the pedestrian Strip, something that impacts a good number of the visitors that pay for hotel rooms and spend money in Las Vegas.
Why is it that the county is willing to fight a protracted legal battle to put Dotty’s out of business, but won’t investigate ways to limit the nuisance that licensed, unregulated “businesses” on the Strip present to our visitors? I’m not aware of any public safety issues associated with Dotty’s; no brawls over tchotkes between grandmas spilling out into the street, no grievances from patrons about the hard candy being substandard. But talking to Metro and to visitors to Vegas who walk the Strip, I’ve heard plenty of complaints and even what sound like legitimate concerns over public safety. What gives?
At the very least, Metro needs to be empowered to tackle those who are out-and-out breaking the law–particularly the 3-card monte hucksters and the liquor salesman. Setting up discrete areas where performers can ply their trade without impinging the ability of pedestrians to get from point A to point B is another idea that deserves, at least, serious consideration.
We really ignore the impact that street-level safety and comfort concerns have on future visitation at our own peril. Those who are entrusted with running the state’s resort industry should spend a few hours riding along with Metro–or just try walking from the MGM Grand to Caesars Palace one night–to get a better idea of what they’re up against.