At today’s City Council meeting, City Attorney Brad Jerbic, along with Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese, introduced a new bill that would regulate certain commercial, entertainment and solicitation activities within the Fremont Street Experience. The bill will be heard by the Recommending Committee, which is made up of two council members, on July 20, before it is forwarded to the full City Council for its consideration. The purpose of the ordinance is to strike a balance between allowing forms of free speech, but at the same time protect the business interests of those vendors who operate inside the Fremont Street Experience.
The bill is intended to address the results of litigation between the city and the American Civil Liberties Union regarding the types of activities, such as the handing out of leaflets, street entertainment, etc., that is not currently allowed by the company that operates the Fremont Street Experience. The proposed ordinance is intended to allow for protected expression subject to reasonable “time, place and manner” regulations. The city hopes to create a reasonable balance between forms of expression and the business interests of those vendors who have kiosks on the mall.
The ordinance proposes “free expression zones” within the pedestrian mall that have been specifically designated to be used for solicitation, leafleting and mall entertainment. The zones would be on the Third Street pedestrian plaza on the north side of the Fremont Street Experience canopy, directly across from the Third Street Stage.