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$581K study to research safety on Vegas Strip

LAS VEGAS — Clark County elected officials cited Las Vegas Strip safety and image concerns as they agreed to funnel $581,000 in hotel room tax money into a three-month study of pedestrian congestion on sidewalks in the tourist corridor.

The County Commission last week called for the Resort Corridor Workgroup to recommend methods and laws to curb unregulated commercial activity in Nevada's adult playground. The advisory panel includes law enforcement, casino and tourism representatives.

More police, additional closed-circuit television surveillance and a night court are among proposals being floated for the resort-lined 4-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard, along with a requirement that leafleteers, derisively termed "smut peddlers," clean up discarded advertisements bearing telephone numbers and images of scantily clad female escorts.

Virginia Valentine, Nevada Resort Association president and former county manager, talked about letters from tourists calling a walk on the Strip "a horrible experience." Valentine said the goal was to make the Strip a more enjoyable place to visit.

American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada attorneys are closely watching the process and will sue if laws restrict First Amendment and free-speech rights, said ACLU executive Dane Claussen.

Officials cite instances where passers-by have had to step off sidewalks into the street to get around crowds of onlookers surrounding costumed performers, and unregulated vendors hawking food and water. They said resort properties could pay for extra police and other resources, as they did after a rash of stabbings on the Strip last summer.