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)'( Who regulates Burning Man?

Interesting stuff. Gary

Begin forwarded m

The future of Burning Man could be at the center of another potential
legislative push in Carson City, this time at the hands of local government
associations seeking to bolster local control over events that happen on
federal land.

Burning Man organizers have been embroiled in a federal court battle with
Pershing County since August over a county-backed special events ordinance
they argue is unconstitutional and could lead to Burning Man leaving Nevada.

Pershing County officials, meanwhile, have argued they have the right to
regulate the eight-day event in the Black Rock Desert, which is already
overseen by federal regulators.

The newest political push comes from the associations that represent Nevada
cities and counties. They’re asking local governments around the state to
support potential legislation that upholds “the right of the local
governments to ensure activities that occur on these lands is compliant with
local land use, zoning, special event and public health and safety codes…”

On Wednesday, Reno Mayor Bob Cashell said the city should not support any
policies that hurt Burning Man, which is a week-long arts and free
expression festival. Burners on their way to the event often stop in the
Reno-Sparks area to buy supplies, leaving behind an estimated $15 million in
the local economy.

“They spend a ton of money when they come through here,” Cashell said. “If
this is going to affect that we need to oppose it.”

Councilman Dwight Dortch said the City Council would normally support
legislation that gives more control to the local government.

“My concern is if there’s an ulterior motive to it,” he said before the
council declined to support the proposal pushed by the Nevada League of
Cities and Municipalities and the Nevada Association of Counties. The city
of Reno is part of The Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities.

While Washoe County Commission hasn’t addressed the policy position pushed
by the two groups yet, the county already has a policy of not regulating
events that are held on federal land.

San Francisco-based Black Rock City LLC sued Pershing County in August over
the special events ordinance that could eventually increase Burning Man’s
law enforcement costs from $400,000 to $1 million.

The law would also allow Pershing County sheriff deputies to regulate
“obscene, indecent, vulgar or lewd” behavior, potentially forbidding
children from attending Burning Man and banning nudity at the event.

Burning Man organizers argue the ordinance would violate their First
Amendment rights. They also dispute the county’s ability to regulate the
event because it’s already permitted by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Pershing County officials have argued the ordinance is necessary to help pay
for public safety costs created by the event and its more than 55,000
attendees.

Pershing District Attorney Jim Shirley said county commissioners “are in
support of anything that gives the county more autonomy and discretion in
regards to BLM land.”

County officials have asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit. If it is
not thrown out then a trial is tentatively set for Sept. 24 in Reno,
according to federal court documents.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman David Bobzien, D-Reno, has a placeholder for a
potential bill that, “Prohibits local governments from enacting ordinances
restricting events and activities on federal lands.”

So far he hasn’t introduced any legislation on the matter.

State Sen. Don Gustavson, a Republican who represents Pershing County, said
he is not aware of any potential legislation that would support Pershing
County in its battle with Burning Man organizers.

He added he’s often hears about the concerns of illegal drug use out on the
playa and understands why some people in Pershing County no longer want the
event happening in their jurisdiction.

“If it’s to help the county to help better control events on federal land I
would probably support,” he said.

Jeffrey Fontaine, the executive director of the Nevada Association of
Counties, said the organization isn’t proposing any legislation at this
time.

“We’ve been in touch with Assemblyman Bobzien and folks from Burning Man and
we are waiting to see what the language in the bill is and we’ll take it
from there,” Fontaine said.

Bobzien and Burning Man officials did not return calls for comment Thursday.

http://www.rgj.com/article/20130214/EVENTS04/302140068/?nclick_check=1

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