Last year Burning Man filed suit against Pershing County, NV, for trying to get a cut of the $24 million+ annual revenues the party brings in. Burning Man argued that their county-based ordnance was unconstitutional. Pershing County hit back, objecting to the nudity at the festival among other things.
Now it seems Burning Man’s legal battles in Nevada are going to continue. The Reno-Gazette Journal has just published an article entitled “Who Regulates Burning Man“?
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…”
The Mayor of Reno is siding with the Burners, pointing out that the event brings more than $15 million annually to the struggling city’s economy. (Surely it is far, far more than that; $15 million is $246 per Burner on average. Perhaps the money going to Wal-Mart, airlines, and rental companies doesn’t get counted as being local)
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.”
Both the Mayor and Black Rock City, LLC (a privately owned Nevada corporation) argue that the jurisdiction over Burning Man is Federal, since the event takes place on Bureau of Land Management land. One Nevada assemblyman is considering legislation to hit back at the counties, and make it specifically impossible for them to regulate events like Burning Man:
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.”
…although so far this is all talk, the bill has not actually been introduced.
The Pershing County trial is tentatively set for a post-Cargo Cult September 24.