Commissioners agree to reconsider Burning Man decision
6/10/2003 11:21 pm
Burning Man festival organizers may get another chance to pitch their proposal
for a permanent staging area for the annual counterculture festival, Washoe
County commissioners decided Tuesday.
Four days after Black Rock City LLC sued the county over the commission's May
13 rejection of the staging area, Burning Man supporters blitzed commissioners
Tuesday at their regular meeting.
Over 2 1/2 hours, more than 60 supporters urged commissioners to reconsider
their decision against the staging area in Hualapai Valley, located about 10
miles from the desert playa where the weeklong festival is held every Labor Day.
Commissioners agreed to consider the issue again June 24, but another formal
vote on the project is not guaranteed.
Commissioners Jim Shaw and Jim Galloway, who opposed the project May 13, also
agreed to tour the area before the next discussion.
Shaw, Galloway and chairman Dave Humke voted in support of an appeal of the
county planning commission's previous approval of the project, which was
opposed by some Hualapai Valley residents as an eyesore.
Will Roger, a top manager of Black Rock City LLC, said the event's lobbying
effort Tuesday appeared at least partially successful.
"I think we accomplished what we intended, at least partly," Roger said.
Burning Man supporters urged commissioners to reverse an action that they said
could force relocation of the event after this year. Following publicity
concerning the county's rejection of the staging area last month, event
organizers said they received offers from several areas, including Esmeralda
"It would be very sad to see this excellent event so somewhere else," said
Carlyn Perona of Reno. Supporters compared the festival, which attracted 30,000
people last summer, to such important events as Hot August Nights and the Reno
Championship Air Races.
Stagecoach resident Mark Kiraly said any action hurting Burning Man - which
organizers said brings $10 million to northern Nevada annually - would be a
wrong step at a time when the Reno area is fighting a sour economy.
Oakland, Calif., resident John Cornwell said, "Your decision says, 'Attendees,
take your good intentions, your vacation dollars and your enthusiasm
Pat Patera of Washoe Valley said the growing reputation of Burning Man should
be seen as an opportunity to be protected.
"Reno can be more than drunken gamblers," Patera said. "It can be thought of as
a cultural place. Don't give (Burning Man) hoops to jump through."
With the event's scope growing steadily, organizers insist a permanent staging
area is critical. "Black Rock Station" would house more than 100 volunteers
that set up Black Rock City and then take it apart after the festival ends.
It would also be where the 70-foot "man" that is torched at the climax of the
festival is constructed.
"I'm a firm believer in keeping 'The Man' happy," supporter Howard Jones told