The message from the city is clear: Downtown Las Vegas, or at least the Fremont Street corridor, is no place for kids on weekend nights.
The Las Vegas City Council voted 6-0 for a curfew kicking out young people under 18 from being in the area bound my Main Street, Maryland Parkway, Stewart Avenue and Bridger Avenue from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., with some limited exceptions.
The curfew law was imposed at the request of Metro, which originally asked for a larger area to be restricted, from Sahara Avenue to U.S. Highway 95, and Interstate 15 to Eastern Avenue. Civil liberties groups and young people complained that the larger footprint, which originally would have included the area where the First Friday music and arts celebration that goes on between Main Street and Casino Center, would have unfairly included residential areas in which young people might live and work.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman said the law was all about the kids, and keeping them away from the drunks and drugs on Fremont Street.
“We need to protect our children here in our community,” she said. “Young people naturally are drawn to where there’s action and excitement and people doing things.”
Goodman added that police wanted the curfew to mirror the one on the Strip implemented a few years ago.
Councilman Ricki Barlow, whose district includes much of downtown, noted that the law had been scaled back: “We really narrowed the scope of where the problem existed.”That reduction also eliminated some of the residential areas that would have been included in the old footprint.
Councilman Bob Coffin, whose district covers the rest of the downtown area, agreed.
“It’s not against children, that’s for sure… These are kids that can get hurt. This is an adult venue with a lot of drinking going on.”
Barlow said a larger issue for the council is “what kind of downtown do we want?” He said the curfew was a move in the direction of designating downtown as a place for adults, rather than families and children.
“I don’t believe we can serve both the youth and the adults,” he said.
Kids - and their parents and guardians - can face misdemeanor fines of up to $1,000 for violating the rules. Police have the discretion to charge curfew violators and deliver them to their parents, put them in juvenile detention or release them altogether.