JRS VOLUME #7; ISSUE #29
Okay… here ya go….
Mr Harvey sez:
The following story appeared today in the Reno Gazette Journal:
In that story I was quoted as saying, “They [the Washoe County Board of Supervisors] have voted tonight to basically shut down Burning Man as an operation”. This is an accurate statement. By voting to deny us Special Use Permits for the use of of our land, they not only ignored the recommendation of their own Planning Commission, they did this with the knowledge that their action would make it very difficult for us to produce our event. We view this as a setback, not unlike many of the challenges we have faced in the past. The good news, however, is that regardless of what the Commission eventually decides, Burning Man WILL happen in the Black Rock Desert in 2003. We need you to tell all your friends that our event will occur as scheduled. We have cleared all hurdles with the BLM and we expect to receive our permit. Our disagreement with the Commission only concerns our use of the property that we have used as a staging area for the last five years. We need a Man, we need a city, we need enthusiastic participants. All of these resources will be available in 2003, so, please, have no qualms, and help us by correcting any rumors you may hear.
We are currently crafting alternative plans. Many of these alternatives involve the continued use of our property. One of the plaintiffs seeking to deny us our permits is quoted in the Journal, saying “I don’t think anybody living within 10 miles of this [our desert property] is in favor of it”. The truth is that a majority of our neighbors in Hualipai-Gerlach area support us in this cause. Bonnie Weber, the Commissioner for our district spoke forcefully on our behalf. Our real opponents in this matter dwindle down to a handful of people, several of whom are not full-time residents in Nevada. Not only do the vast majority of people in a twenty-five mile radius support us, but we enjoy widespread support throughout Nevada. Reaction is already vociferous and will increase. As one attendee at last night’s hearing said, “I think…democracy has failed. I think the commissioners were not listening to the voice of the people”. This perception will help us as we move forward to resolve this problem.
The decision made by the Commission is flawed. We will furnish all of you with details in the coming days so that you can do your part to help us. This particular hearing was by no means our only opportunity to communicate. Crucial information was available at the hearing, furnished by the Commission’s own experts, but it was not elicited. Near the end of this meeting, one of the commissioner’s who voted to deny us permits asked, “Isn’t there some way that we can allow the event to happen this year?”, and the answer to this question is an emphatic “YES!”. We believe there are several ways for this to happen, and in a way, we think this may actually be a good thing. As has happened often in the past, officials were genuinely puzzled about how to fit Burning Man into established categories. We were ready and able to comply with 95 stipulations attached to the four permits, but it was like applying for a work boot and being fitted for a high-heeled shoe. Upon consideration, we now feel new solutions will allow us to better communicate our needs. In the meantime, please be assured: no will take Burning Man away from you. Will Roger, Harely Dubois, Crimson Rose, Danger Ranger, Marian Goodell, myself, and our many staff members look forward to seeing you all in the desert. We will be there and you will be there. After all these years of doing Burning Man, we’ve learned that community cannot exist without shared struggle. We know that this particular struggle, only one of several we’ve survived, will bring everyone together in the desert for 8 days in August and September in 2003. See you on the playa!
Jack Rabbit Sez:
The Burning Man Project wishes to thank the 37 people who either spoke or submitted green comment cards to the Commission during last night’s agenda item regarding our Special Use Permits. Every speaker was articulate and contributed unique testimony to the process. Additionally, a large number of your fellow participants in Washoe County also wrote letters of support to the five commissioners. At times there have been and will continue to be issues which only supporters in Washoe County can affect. We are grateful to everyone who took the time to contribute to this public process. Washoe County businesses that you visit like the Melting Pot, Twin City Surplus, and Bruka Theater not only wrote letters but also attended and spoke at the meeting. Businesses the Burning Man Project work with including Johnny on the Spot, United Rentals, and Nevada Concrete also wrote letters.
Support generated before the Planning Commissioners last month included a flood of supportive letters from Gerlach and Empire locals, and a petition signed by 102 Gerlach residents. This flood was particularly important to the processes directly preceding the recent Washoe County Commissioners meeting.
This local show of support is vital to the Burning Man event. This year when you meet someone on the playa from Washoe County (Reno, Sparks, Gerlach, etc.) give him/her a strong pat on the back and a thank you for the local support which continues to keep the event alive. We may soon ask all of you to help, too.
===Back story URLs and timeline about this issue:
December 2002 we applied for 4 Special Use Permits from Washoe County Community Development permits.
January 11, 2003:
March 13, 2003
Late March early April, 2003:
Had two public meetings with the Planning Commission about the permits. They ultimately approved the permits (5-2), then the permits were appealed by a list of 8 names. 4 of which were the same person/entity who lives full-time in Reno, 2 of which are full-time CA residents, 1 of which lives in Pershing County…which leaves one person I never even met before who isn’t even adjacent to our property.
April 11, 2003:
The appeal went to the 5-member Washoe County Commissioners.
And last night they overturned the Planning Commissions approval of the permits. We are working on a solution and are confident we will prevail. Please stand by.
Mistress of Communication
The JRS: guaranteed to be interesting every now and then.