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New sidewalk vendor ordinance now in effect in Clark County

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(The Center Square) – Vendors setting up shop on sidewalks in Clark County must now apply for business licenses.

The county’s new licensing process, which opened up to applicants on Tuesday, comes after the state legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 92 last year.

The new ordinance says the commercial use of sidewalks to “sell, peddle, offer to sell or solicit for sale” by offering or displaying goods and items is inconsistent with their purpose, adding that, if unregulated, it “poses a unique risk to the health, safety, and welfare of the public.”

Vendors must also have a state business license, permits from the Health District and Nevada’s Department of Taxation, as well as general liability insurance. The annual fee is $150 for the county license, and penalties run up to $500 per violation.

Geoffrey Lawrence, research director at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, told The Center Square that Senate Bill 92 “sharply curtailed the ability for individuals to sell bottled water or similar products at sidewalk stands.”

“Although SB 92 prevents local governments from outlawing sidewalk vendors altogether, it also restricts where sidewalk vendors are allowed to operate and grants express authority to local governments to regulate these vendors,” he said, adding that “a clear purpose of SB 92” was to remove any potential competitors to casino vendors along the state’s major resort corridors.

“The law expressly bans sidewalk vending within 1,500 feet of any resort hotel or convention center and only applies to the two counties that are home to Nevada’s major resort towns – Las Vegas and Reno,” said Lawrence. “Clark County has now exercised the regulatory option created for it by the legislature by also requiring that sidewalk vendors procure a state business license, collect sales tax, retain insurance and comply with the local health department.”

While he said the regulations might sound reasonable, Lawrence added they also raise the barrier to entry for entrepreneurially minded individuals who have few alternatives available for earning a living, “all in the name of protecting casino gift shops from prospective competition.”

Lawrence pointed out that Clark County has also taken similar actions to ban sidewalk vending in residential districts. That includes lemonade stands, something Lawrence said could result in a $500 fine and up to six months in county jail.