For a long time, performers were NOT allowed to perform on Fremont Street . The City of Las Vegas believed that Fremont Street, a former vehicular thoroughfare turned pedestrian boardwalk, was a private mall because Fremont Street Experience LLC built a canopy over it and was responsible for managing the area. It took legal action from the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada (ACLU NV) to make first amendment-protected activities possible for artists, performers, and citizens.
In late 2015, the City of Las Vegas created a registration system to deal with the chaos of performers on Fremont Street. The designated performance zones are assigned at random via an online system. The program is enforced by Fremont Street Experience LLC security guards. Fremont Street Experience LLC is a privately held company that maintains the city-owned mall.
Prior to the circles, street performers fought over spots and were harassed by security and police. The constitutionality of performance zones (and permits) is still up for debate, but several tourist-driven municipalities in the U.S. have instituted them (e.g. Santa Monica, Balboa Park, Ocean City, Chicago).
From the City of Las Vegas
On Sept. 16, 2015, the City of Las Vegas adopted an amendment to LVMC 11.68 to address the areas where expressive activity could occur while maintaining public safety and well-being on the Fremont Street Pedestrian Mall. The purpose of the registration and lottery program is to manage the time and place where expressive activity can occur using designated performance locations during specified time frames. The specified time frames are between 3:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m.
From BuskLV (2021)
Fremont Street Experience routinely makes several performance circles unavailable. So while 38 performance zones exist, there’s usually about 20-30 zones available on given day.
11.68.107 – Street performers
(A) Street performers may perform within the Pedestrian Mall only in accordance with the provisions of this Section.
(B) It is unlawful for a street performer to charge a fee for a performance within the Pedestrian Mall. For purposes of this Chapter, the charging of a fee for entertainment or for a performance includes the act of requiring a person to pay for the entertainment or performance, whether in advance or after the fact, but does not include the act of soliciting or requesting tips or donations, the act of making available a receptacle for tips or donations, or the act of receiving tips or donations.
(C) A street performer who does not charge a fee for a performance as described in Subsection (B) may perform within the Pedestrian Mall in accordance with the following conditions and limitations:
(1) Street performers shall not have the right to “reserve” any space or location, except as otherwise provided in Subsection (D) of Section 11.68.108, and may not interfere in any way with performances provided by or on behalf of The Fremont Street Limited Liability Company;
(2) At no time may a street performer perform:
(a) Within twenty feet of any building entrance or ATM;
(b) Within ten feet of any retail kiosk or cart, but subject to the provisions of Paragraph (6) of this Subsection (C);
(c) Within ten feet of the outer perimeter of any outdoor dining area while the area is being used for dining;
(d) Within twenty feet of any fire lane or crosswalk;
(e) Within any area of the Pedestrian Mall that is closed to the public (such as on a closed stage provided by The Fremont Street Limited Liability Company);
(f) During any sponsored concert, within one hundred feet of the stage on which the concert is taking place;
(g) Within forty feet of any other street performer then performing; or
(h) At any location that will obstruct or impede pedestrian traffic.
(3) Within the specified time frame, street performers may perform only in a designated location;
(4) Street performers may not place objects on the ground unless the objects are within a two foot radius of the performer; do not obstruct or impede pedestrian traffic or cause a potential risk to passersby; and are integral to the performance (e.g., a hat or container to accept donations).
(5) Street performers may emit sound in connection with their performance, but subject to the following conditions:
(a) The sound must be an integral part of the performance;
(b) The sound may not exceed the maximum noise levels set forth in the following table:
Maximum Noise Levels (in A-weighted decibels), measured by a sound level meter qualifying as Class 1 under IEC 61672-1 85 dBA*/107 dBA**
* When measured at a minimum distance of 25 feet from the source of the noise
** When measured at a minimum distance of 1 foot from the source of the noise
(c) The sound is not permitted during any actual performance or operation of the celestial vault lightshow, or during any special event when the Pedestrian Mall is closed to the general public except upon payment of an admission charge; and
(d) The sound is not permitted during any concert that is provided by or on behalf of The Fremont Street Limited Liability Company unless each source of the amplified sound is at least one hundred feet from the stage on which the concert takes place.
(6) The distance limitation set forth in Subparagraph (b) of Paragraph (2) of this Subsection (C) shall not apply if and to the extent that The Fremont Street Limited Liability Company, at any given time, has established or permitted more than fifty retail kiosks or carts within the Pedestrian Mall.
(D) Nothing in this Section authorizes conduct prohibited by other provisions of this Chapter or other ordinances and laws of general applicability, including without limitation prohibitions relating to solicitation by coercion and the obstruction of rights-of-way.
(Ord. No. 6462, § 8, 9-16-15; Ord. No. 6131, § 5, 2-2-11)
11.68.108 – Street performers—Designated locations
(A) The City Council hereby designates certain locations (the “designated locations”) within the Pedestrian Mall that are expressly set aside for use by street performers during the specified time frame. Such locations shall consist of:
(1) That area of the Pedestrian Mall formerly consisting of Third Street, as depicted on the map referred to in LVMC 11.68.040(B); and
(2) Other areas, each of which is no greater than six feet in diameter and is denoted on the surface of the Pedestrian Mall.
(B) A map depicting the approximate locations of the designated locations described in Paragraph (2) of Subsection (A) of this Section shall be on file with the City Clerk, is hereby incorporated by this reference, and shall be made available for inspection during normal business hours. In the exercise of its authority under this Chapter, or in order to facilitate the flow of pedestrian traffic, or to serve the convenience of the Pedestrian Mall’s patrons (or any combination thereof), The Fremont Street Limited Liability Company may adjust the exact location of any designated location described in this Subsection (B) up to twenty-five feet in any direction from the location appearing on the map referred to in this Subsection (B). Notwithstanding the previous sentence, The Fremont Street Limited Liability Company shall:
(1) Provide no fewer than thirty-eight designated locations of the type described in Paragraph (2) of Subsection (A) are available at any given time; and
(2) Otherwise ensure that no fewer than twenty-five such locations are available at any given time.
(C) Except as allotted under the lottery system described in Subsection (D), the use of any designated location for performances by street performers within the specified time frame shall be on a first-come-first-serve basis and may not be reserved in any fashion. Any designated location shall be deemed unoccupied and available unless it is physically occupied by a person or allotted in accordance with Subsection (D).
(D) No street performer may use a particular designated location for a performance within the specified time frame for more than two hours at a time. At the top of each odd-numbered hour within the specified time frame, any street performer who has been using a particular designated location for a performance for more than one hour must move to a different designated location in order to continue that activity or performance, regardless of the amount of time he or she spent in a designated location just before the top of that hour. The City or The Fremont Street Limited Liability Company shall establish a lottery system by which performers are allotted designated locations within the specified time frame and in accordance with which enforcement of this Section may take place. Upon implementation of the lottery system, no street performer may perform within a designated location within the specified time frame unless:
(1) He or she has been allotted that location for that time; or
(2) No one has been allotted that location for that time.
(E) In connection with a person’s first use of a designated location as a street performer within the specified time frame, that person must register with the City’s Business Licensing Division (or its designee) no later than seventy-two hours after that first use. The registration shall expire after one hundred eighty days. Upon expiration of a person’s registration, the registrant, in connection with another use of a designated location within the specified time frame, must register again no later than seventy-two hours after that use. The registration requirements of this Subsection (E) that are triggered by the use of a designated location are not triggered separately with reference to each designated location, but rather merely with reference to any designated location. Therefore, the same person will need to register only one time within a one hundred eighty day period, no matter how many different designated locations that person uses for a performance. Registration may be anonymous and requires a description of intended use, which shall include a complete listing of characters to be performed. The Business Licensing Division (or its designee) may deny registration only in the case of failure to provide the description of intended use. A performer is not entitled to more than one registration regardless of the number of characters or acts performed.
(F) Any person who uses a designated location as a street performer within the specified time frame must display the registration form provided by the Business Licensing Division (or its designee) at the perimeter of the designated location being used by the performer or otherwise in a conspicuous manner within or bounding the designated location.
Any person violating the provisions of Sections 11.68.030, 11.68.080, and 11.68.100 to 11.68.108, inclusive, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
(Ord. No. 6462, § 11, 9-16-15; Ord. No. 6131, § 6, 2-2-11; Ord. 5896 § 2 (part), 2007; Ord. 5866 § 1 (part), 2006)
11.68.140 – Violation—Civil action.
By virtue of its standing and authority under LVMC 11.68.060 and 11.68.070, The Fremont Street Limited Liability Company may commence a civil action to enjoin any violation of the provisions contained in LVMC 11.68.100 to 11.68.108, inclusive. This remedy shall supplement, and exist in addition to, those contained in LVMC 11.68.130.
(Ord. No. 6462, § 12, 9-16-15; Ord. No. 6131, § 7, 2-2-11)