Community advocates gather at Las Vegas City Hall to protest an ordinance that will criminalize homelessness.

Effective February 2020, the City of Las Vegas has enacted two ordinances which allow law enforcement officers to issue criminal penalties to individuals experiencing homelessness. The ACLU of Nevada stands firmly against the criminalization of homelessness and advocates for housing first approaches and policies that address the root causes of homelessness.

Read below to learn what is prohibited and to understand your rights under the new laws. If you or someone you know has been affected by these ordinances, please contact the ACLU of Nevada by filling out this form.

1. What activities may be punishable under the law due to the Las Vegas ordinance?

Q.What activities may be punishable under the law due to the Las Vegas ordinance?
A.
  • Sitting or lying down on the ground.
  • Sitting or lying down on a blanket, stool, or other object.
  • Sleeping or being in a temporary shelter outdoors.
  • Cooking over an open flame or fire outdoors.
  • Laying down bedding or setting up a tent, shelter, or similar structure for sleeping or living.

2. Where will the ordinance be enforced within city limits?

Q.Where will the ordinance be enforced within city limits?
A.
  • Any public street or sidewalk next to a residential property.
  • Any public street or sidewalk in the following districts: Arts, Cashman, Civil and Business, Design, Founders, Fremont East, Gateway, Historic Westside, Medical, Market Corridor, Resort and Casino, and Symphony Park.
  • Any public street or sidewalk within 500 ft. of a receiving dock of a food processing facility.

3. What if emergency shelters do not have any available beds while the ordinance is being enforced?

Q.What if emergency shelters do not have any available beds while the ordinance is being enforced?
A.

You can only be punished under the law if there is an open shelter bed that you could be using. If there are no open shelter beds, you cannot be cited or arrested for sitting or sleeping outside. If you are cited or arrested on a day when you were not able to sleep at a shelter, contact the ACLU of Nevada.

4. What if emergency shelters do have available beds while the ordinance is being enforced?

Q.What if emergency shelters do have available beds while the ordinance is being enforced?
A.

If you are sitting or sleeping outside when there are open shelter beds, an officer can issue a citation or arrest you. Before an officer issues a citation or arrests you, the officer must do 3 things:

  • Notify you that you are in violation of the law (section 10.86.010 of the Las Vegas Municipal Code);
  • Inform you that resources are available to you at the Courtyard Homeless Resource Center; and
  • Direct you to a location where the law does not apply.

5. What activities are allowed in the City of Las Vegas under the camping ban ordinance?

Q.What activities are allowed in the City of Las Vegas under the camping ban ordinance?
A.

What you can do:

  • Sit or lie on the ground if you are having a medical emergency.
  • Use a wheelchair or other mobility devices to move through the streets and sidewalks.
  • Participate in a rally, demonstration, or other event lawfully conducted in the street.

6. Does the ordinance apply to private property?

Q.Does the ordinance apply to private property?
A.

You can sit or lie on private property, but only with permission from the owner. And remember:

  • It is illegal to loiter on the private property of another without permission.
  • You may be charged with a misdemeanor if you sleep in the doorway of an unoccupied building without the permission of the owner.

7. What about the ordinance related to street cleaning?

Q.What about the ordinance related to street cleaning?
A.

The city has also made it a crime to sit, lie, sleep, camp, or otherwise obstruct the sidewalk during a designated cleaning time.

The city must place appropriate signs or markings to alert the public of when these cleaning times will take place.

If you are sitting or sleeping on a sidewalk during cleaning hours, an officer can issue a citation or arrest you.

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