A proposal to designate the rural foothill community of Nevada City as a companion city to the temporary city erected during the Burning Man festival has ignited a firestorm of criticism from local business owners.
"The backlash has been very, very negative," said Mayor Duane Strawser. "It's something that (was brought to us that was supposed to be) simple and fun turned out to be a very big hot topic."
The City Council will vote on the proposal tonight.
Annually, more than 50,000 Burning Man attendees erect the temporary Black Rock City in the Nevada desert. The city, complete with busy dance clubs, lecture halls and amusement rides, operate on a gift economy. The arts, music and counterculture festival starts Sunday.
Strawser said in the last 72 hours he's received more than 60 calls and emails on the topic - all negative. The flood of input has exceeded that for more weighty topics such as the city's response to the homeless problem, ban on downtown smoking, ban on leaf burning, the occupy movement, or marijuana dispensaries.
"Many of the merchants are saying 'no way,' " he said. Strawser said they are concerned that the city's image and business prospects would be tainted.
The proposal was written and brought forward by City Clerk Niel Locke.
In a resolution, Locke writes that the two cities share a similar history, environment and beauty. On his Facebook page, Locke asks Burners (Burning Man festival attendees) to contact the city to voice their support.
"My understanding is there is some opposition by some members of the City Council," Locke writes. "This is caused by the great distortion of truth that BM is nothing but an event of drugs, sex, alcohol, dirty people etc. etc."
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