Reno, NV – The Reno City Council on Wednesday took a first step towards regulating sidewalk vendors by approving the first reading of a new ordinance. However, the move was not without its critics, with concerns raised about the impact on downtown businesses and the limitations imposed by state law.
The ordinance, prompted by Senate Bill 92 passed during the 2023 legislative session, aims to establish a framework for sidewalk vending in the city. However, some of the regulations outlined in the bill, specifically the 1,500-foot buffer zone around resort hotels and convention spaces, were deemed unsuitable for Reno’s smaller downtown area, effectively excluding vendors from the entire sector except private streets.
Council members Naomi Duerr and Jenny Brekhus expressed concerns about the ordinance’s potential impact on event vendors and small business owners. They pointed out that event vendors are already authorized by organizers, regardless of their status as sidewalk vendors, and that the ordinance might deter smaller businesses from operating downtown.
However, due to the state mandate, the council couldn’t remove all restrictive provisions, such as the buffer zone around resort hotels. They did, however, maintain two existing regulations: a 300-foot buffer zone around special event entrances and a 100-foot buffer zone around brick-and-mortar businesses selling similar products.
The ordinance also introduces positive changes for sidewalk vendors. It reclassifies them to standard licenses, eliminating background checks, public hearings, and council approval, with licensing now handled by the Health District. Additionally, vendors will no longer be assigned specific locations but will be able to “roam” within permitted areas.
Despite the positive aspects, Mayor Hillary Schieve and Councilmember Brekhus remained opposed to the ordinance, arguing that it imposes a “southern Nevada issue” on Reno. However, Councilmember Devon Reese emphasized the need to move forward with implementing the state law, even with its limitations, to remove barriers for sidewalk vendors.
The ordinance will return for a second reading and potential implementation at the next council meeting, where further debate and potential amendments are expected. Whether this revised ordinance will address the concerns of council members and ensure a fair and beneficial framework for Reno’s sidewalk vendors remains to be seen.
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