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Outside a Taco Bell in south-east Las Vegas, Skateboard Mike crossed an empty parking lot and pointed at the tent encampment that had built up on the ledges of a storm drain.
Skateboard Mike, whose real name is Michael Brinkman, lives nearby, spending his nights in a hole he dug in a dirt lot. The space is filled with couch cushions, and Brinkman, 42, usually tops the hole with cardboard and tumbleweed to avoid being exposed.
“It’s not that we’re here. It’s that they see us,” Brinkman said.
Las Vegas recently began cracking down on people living outdoors. In November, the city council approved a law that made sitting, resting or “lodging” on sidewalks a misdemeanor punishable with up to six months in jail or fines of up to $1,000 in most neighborhoods.
“I don’t blame them,” Brinkman said of community support for the ordinance. “That’s where a majority of the homeless people stay, in the wash or the tunnels. As you can see, it becomes an eyesore. Trash is the biggest problem.”