LAS VEGAS >> Clark County officials say they’ve seen a big difference on the Las Vegas Strip since a new ordinance approved last month gave them the power to boot out unlicensed peddlers.
As of last week, undercover Clark County business license agents say they issued 10 citations and 72 warnings to vendors. Another 30 people were arrested by agents and police in a recent sweep.
"There are nowhere near the number of vendors that I’ve seen in months past," Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I think it’s made a difference. It’s made an impact."
The new rule, which targets people hawking bottled water from coolers or peddling CDs and other trinkets, is one of several meant to beautify the congested tourist corridor.
One of the new rules bans pets, which panhandlers sometimes use to gain sympathy for their collections. Another one requires handbillers — including those who line the street pushing business card-sized ads for adult businesses — to clean up their fliers when people drop them nearby.
The anti-littering ordinance has been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada.
"You can’t legally cite someone criminally for what someone else threw away," said Allen Lichtenstein, the ACLU’s general counsel. "It will be challenged."
Lichtenstein, however, told the newspaper he doesn’t have a problem with the unlicensed vendor rule.
The plainclothes agents responsible for enforcing the law, which carries a fine and potential six-month jail sentence, say most of the people they encounter are trying to make a living.
"We’re out here looking for jobs, man," said a man who gave his name as Ronald and was cited by agents last week for selling water on a walkway near the Wynn Las Vegas. "I’m broke. You won’t see me back out here again."
One agent, who asked the Review-Journal that his name not be published because he’s undercover, said the law has more teeth to tackle the widespread problem of peddlers on the Strip.
"With this new code, I feel we’re making headway, and it is getting better," he said.