San Francisco, April 29, 2013 — U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones issued an order Friday denying Pershing County’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Black Rock City, LLC challenging the County’s unconstitutional festival permitting process.
Burning Man organizers sued Pershing County in August 2012 after the County breached a series of agreements it had previously entered into with Black Rock City, LLC, and enacted an unconstitutional ordinance that singles out the Burning Man event.
“The ordinance is nothing more than the county’s thinly veiled attempt to exact more fees or drive the internationally-renowned art event out of Nevada,” said Raymond Allen, Government Relations Manager for Black Rock City, LLC. “Both actions are violations of the First Amendment.”
The Pershing County ordinance increased the costs Black Rock City, LLC had to pay from around $180,000 in 2011 to over $600,000 in 2013.
Black Rock City, LLC is also pursuing action in the State Legislature to clarify a vague and outdated state statute that the county relied on when it enacted the local ordinance in question. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman David Bobzien, models the state statute on the Washoe and Storey County ordinances by exempting federal land.
The Nevada Assembly overwhelmingly passed the bill, AB374, on April 23. The Senate Government Affairs Committee will take up the bill May 8.
“The judge’s ruling is a major victory for Burning Man,” said Terry Gross, General Counsel for Black Rock City, LLC. “The county attempted to dismiss the entire case, and the court denied that as to all critical claims. The only claim that was completely denied by the Court was for preemption, and we plan to appeal that decision at the appropriate time.”
Burning Man brings in over $30 million for businesses in Northern Nevada each year as participants travel from all fifty states and numerous countries worldwide to attend the Burning Man event.
For 22 years, the Black Rock Desert outside Reno, Nev., has been home to the increasingly popular and influential Burning Man arts event. Started on a beach in San Francisco in 1986, Burning Man now attracts nearly 60,000 participants annually, from every U.S. state and 22 countries. For more information about the lawsuit please see brcvpc.com. For media inquiries, please call 415.865.3600.