LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A proposed city ordinance would make it a misdemeanor for the valley’s homeless to camp or sleep in public areas, like sidewalks in downtown Las Vegas and residential areas. People we talked to want the city to prevent homelessness.
Derek Stonebarger is the owner of Re-Bar — a bar in Las Vegas’s Arts District that extends onto the sidewalk. Stonebarger says that wasn’t an easy process.
I know that the City of Las Vegas basically owns and controls the sidewalks,” Stonebarger said.
His bar falls into the area the City of Las Vegas is proposing an ordinance that would make it a misdemeanor for members of the valley’s homeless population to camp or sleep.
“We’ve got a great thing happening down here,” Stonebarger said. “The city spent millions of dollars on the Main Street one-way couplet and on top of that we’re seeing an increase in the homeless population so I understand where they’re coming from wanting to control the beautiful sidewalks they just created, but it’s a tough decision.”
“Ordinances like this take more care for our business interests than our families,” said Leo Murrieta — Executive Director of Make the Road Nevada. “We don’t have enough affordable housing units for people who need them desperately. The backlog for affordable housing is far too long and it’s out of reach for too many people.”
Make the Road Nevada hopes the ordinance isn’t passed and that the city instead looks to prevention.
“We should be thinking about how we can do better rather than criminalizing people for having nowhere else to go,” Murrieta said.
If the ordinance is passed, officers will have to check if shelters have any room. If yes, that would result in a misdemeanor. If all beds are full, the ordinance wouldn’t be enforced.
This is a proposed ordinance. It will be presented at Wednesday’s city council meeting and will be open for public discussion on October 14th.