Nevada Local Governments Make Pitch To Control Burning Man

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…”

government solutionThe move is being pushed by the Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities and the Nevada Association of Counties, of which the city of Reno is a part.

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.

11 comments on “Nevada Local Governments Make Pitch To Control Burning Man

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  6. Keep in mind that Pershing County gets basically none of the money Burners spend in Nevada. Gerlach/Empire are in Washoe County. The only “city” in Pershing County is Lovelock, population 2k. They don’t even have a Walmart there. I spent money in 4 Nevada counties last year, but Pershing wasn’t one of them.

    I’m not saying it’s right for Pershing to try to shake down Burning Man, but there’s really no reason for them to worry about killing the goose with the golden eggs. Reno gets almost all the golden eggs. Pershing County doesn’t get any.

    • They get money other ways you might not think of. They are smaller, but measurable. For instance, there are a hella lotta weddings at Burning Man and Pershing County makes money on issuing marriage licenses.

  7. Gerlach and Empire will take a fiscal hit. The local schools will no longer have aid from the coffee and ice sales. The relationships formed over the years will dry up. And this from people who say they praise freedom and liberty, but in reality want conformity.

  8. Sounds like Mayor Bob Cashell is a straight up guy who realizes that Burning Man provides real revenue to his community. If for some reason Nevada does screw this up, they will look back and regret it — b/c without burners coming through town, they will lose more than just $.

    • agreed – Burning Man’s significance to the economy and culture of Reno goes much, much further than this estimated $15 million. Like, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Grand Sierra alone makes that much from Burners. I personally have really been enjoying Reno in the last couple of years, without Burning Man I probably would never have gone there at all.

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