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Newsrack ordinance, Item K-1

From: domainremoved <Dave>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2018 00:38:54 -0700

Dear Council Members,

The proposed ordinance is too broad and should focus squarely on the problem you’re trying to solve — the unsightly, abandoned newsracks cluttering the city’s downtown streets.

A couple of decades ago, a proposed newsrack ordinance would have resulted in a phalanx of publishers descending upon city hall, each demanding spaces for their boxes. Today the story is very different. Most of the newspapers that were delivering to newsracks 20 years ago have stopped. They’ve abandoned their racks. And those racks are the ones collecting garbage and graffiti. Only a couple of newspapers still deliver to racks. The way to solve the problem of blight to pare down this ordinance to a couple of paragraphs that declare a rack to be abandoned if it goes unused for 14 days. Once it’s abandoned, the city or its designee can remove the rack. If you pass that, you’ll eliminate most of the clutter, and you won't need the rest of the ordinance.

Two portions of this ordinance create unnecessary problems.

• Section 13.28.070 specifies where you can place a rack. Council said at its Dec. 5 meeting that it didn’t want to restrict the number of racks allowed. Yet Section 13.28.070 (a) (4) (A)-(H) and (5) eliminates many current rack locations, which reduces the number of papers we’re able to distribute.

What was the problem that led to these placement restrictions? These placement restrictions weren’t discussed before the proposed ordinance was released. Before you pass this provision of the ordinance, your staff should take interested publishers on a walk-through so that we can discuss where racks should go. Let’s measure the sidewalks to see how this plays out.

• Section 12.28.030 restricts newsracks on private property. When this ordinance was first proposed, the Post asked for all of the complaints the city had received about newsracks. Only 2 people had complained. Neither complained about a rack on private property. This idea of regulating racks on private property is new to those of us who tried to work with the city. It just suddenly appeared in the proposed ordinance with no prior discussion.

The proposed ordinance doesn’t require a permit for racks on private property but it vaguely suggests they could require “design review approval by the … public works director.” Under what circumstances is design review triggered? The document doesn't say.

If a publisher goes to a store owner and asks for permission to put a rack on his or her property, will the owner have to apply for a conditional use permit? Why would that be necessary? What problem are you trying to solve? I suggest that you leave private property out of this ordinance like other cities have done.

Thank you for your consideration.

Dave Price
Editor and co-publisher
The Daily Post
385 Forest Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 328-7700
Received on Tue Mar 13 2018 - 00:41:18 PDT

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