LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A mad scramble in front of the Bellagio as a street vendor flees from police provides a glimpse at the problem that’s playing out as more people take risks to turn a buck.
The scene from late February in the video above shows how quickly a portable cook station can disappear, probably to pop up again when the cops are gone and the tourists are hungry.
It’s illegal now, and it will still be illegal when lawmakers are finished hammering out the details of a bill that could set up health district regulation of food vendors, along with clear definitions of where they are not allowed.
Senate Bill 92 (SB92) is sponsored by Sen. Fabian Doñate (D-Las Vegas), who set out to establish some rules — but to give enterprising vendors a path to run their businesses with proper licensing and regulation.
It’s still very much in the works as health districts in Clark and Washoe counties help shape the framework.
Hopes that it might go into effect before the Formula 1 race and the Super Bowl comes to town don’t seem realistic, with a lot to do to prepare for regulating the vendors. Lawmakers are focused on food safety and keeping vendors off Strip sidewalks or areas near Allegiant Stadium, but it’s not all negative.
A blur of city-level regulations could be simplified if the bill is successful.
Doñate and others who presented the bill to the Assembly Government Affairs Committee see it as accommodating the entrepreneurial spirit in the community — and a real part of the American Dream. It might be a side hustle for some, but others might depend on it to pay the bills, and lawmakers don’t want to destroy that energy.
But right now, the SB92 has been carved up and rewritten so extensively that it’s hard to decipher. Assemblywoman Selena Torres told Doñate she needs to see a fresh version of the language before she’s ready to make any decisions.
The bill has already won approval in the Senate, but it has changed so much it’s probably going to have to go through a work session before it gets much farther in the Legislature this year.
“At the bottom line, I believe that street food vendors deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and that’s our ultimate goal with the production of what will happen after this bill is passed,” Doñate said.
Will the final product just be about food? Or will it apply to merchandise like hats, glow sticks and Super Bowl shirts? It might be too early to tell.
The bill will establish firm guidelines on how far street vendors must stay away from the Strip and other locations.
Doing business without a license is a misdemeanor. Police said the operators are extremely organized, often coming in from California. Violence has become a problem, police representatives said, particularly violence directed at police.