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City Pride re Downtown Newspaper Racks

From: domainremoved <Jim>
Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2018 17:23:00 -0400

Hi Mr. Cogan,
 
Thank you for explaining thoroughly the current status of the downtown newspaper racks.
 
It's encouraging that progress is being made. The new Newspaper Rack Municipal Ordinance no doubt will help to address many of the concerns both the City and the Community have had with the various stand alone and multiple green racks for sometime.
 
I'm pleased that the MAP prepared in a graphical format that was requested by one of the Council Members is being prepared. Given the scope of the project, no doubt being able to identify what is being proposed will be very helpful.
 
I look forward to this topic coming back to the City Council, perhaps as early as this May 2018 for the Second Reading of the new Ordinance. In the meantime, it may be helpful to address a few other related concerns, such as the following:
 
    1) Has a BUDGET for the first year's implementation of the Ordinance been created, in other words, what will it cost to enforce the ordinance and to remove existing boxes?
 
    2) Has the amount of the FINES, penalties and related costs for the Master Fee Schedule been determined?
 
    3) Will VIOLATIONS be a civil or criminal action?
 
    4) Are 100% of the GREEN BOXES being thrown away, or will useable boxes simply be repainted, cleaned up and continued to be used?
 
    5) As the Council expressed caution and concern over possible FIRST AMENDMENT issues, has this been thoroughly vetted out, with outside council?
 
    6) Once the Ordinance is enacted, giving the City the right to oversee the newspaper racks, would you consider then giving the PUBLISHERS and distributors the opportunity over a 90 day or so period to self-regulate? This was suggested on multiple occasions by two of the five City Council members.
 
    7) How much time is anticipated during the first year of the Ordinance for the various CITY DEPARTMENTS to implement the Ordinance, such as the a) Public Works Department, b) Legal Department, c) the Police Department's Code Enforcement Department, the d) Finance Department, e) Business Development Department and f) and/or areas of the City?
 
    8) Given the City's current number of staff VACANCIES, is there capacity to take on this project, at this time, without sacrificing other important services provided to the community?
 
These and other concerns perhaps can be addressed in May 2018 when the Newspaper Rack Ordinance comes back to the City Council. As with most things in life, there are pros and cons. It isn't all black and green.
 
Respectfully,
 
Jim Lewis
 
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From: Cogan, Jim C <"Cogan,>
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2018 17:35:03 +0000

 Mr. Silzer

Thank you for your email. As Council Member Cline mentioned, the City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance which will allow the City to regulate and address unmaintained and/or abandoned newsracks in Menlo Park on March 13, 2018.

Regarding your question, there was not previously an ordinance regulating their use in Menlo Park. The "old non used newspaper boxes that are an eye sore around the downtown area" as you referred to them, (and I agree) were installed decades ago as part of an uncodified agreement between the City and publishers in an effort to restrict the placement of modular (individually branded) racks throughout the City. Since then, the advent of the internet, social media and a 24-hr news cycle has resulted in many news organizations abandoning paper circulation, resulting in the situation you referenced.

On October 25, 2017 the City held a community meeting for stakeholders (publishers, Chamber of Commerce, residents, business owners) to receive input on how to address the complaints of abandoned and/or unmaintained newsracks in Menlo Park. There was a request at that time by one of the publishers to allow the publishers 6 months to address the problem themselves without an ordinance. Unfortunately, without an ordinance there is no way for the City to enforce maintenance standards or remove abandoned newracks, such as the ones you referenced in your email. It is worth noting that it has been almost 6 months since that first meeting and clearly the abandoned newsracks are still there and generating concerns.

On December 5, 2017, the City Council gave direction to draft an ordinance to develop a permit process for allowing newsracks, while setting placement and maintenance standards. It is our intention, that part of this effort will be removing all of the unused and/or abandoned newsracks.

On February 8, 2018, staff held a second community meeting to receive input on the proposed draft ordinance. In advance of the meeting, the draft ordinance and draft permit application were distributed to everyone who had attended the October 25th community meeting or contacted the City separately about newsracks. Extensive outreach was conducted to ensure the community, publishers and distributors were notified. A personal email invitation was sent to all editors, publications and publishers identified as distributing within the City. Personal phone calls were made to stakeholders, the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce announced the meeting in its newsletter, a Council Digest article was published, it was posted on the community calendar and Economic Development website and it was posted on Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, InMenlo and the Almanac published articles about the meeting. At the meeting, staff received positive feedback regarding the proposed draft ordinance. Distributors and publishers express
 ed appreciation that the ordinance was not too restrictive, allowed them to brand the news racks while allowing them to distribute at locations they know best serve their customers. The City Attorney’s Office and staff answered all follow up questions and, after the meeting, made minor edits to the draft ordinance and permit application.

On March, 13th the City Council approved the first reading of the ordinance. However, right before the meeting there was one concern from a publisher that the new placement standards may be too restrictive. There was a request at that time that staff develop a map to illustrate where newsracks will be allowed, based on the new standards for placement to ensure sidewalk ADA accessibility and avoid conflicts with crosswalks, bike parking, benches, etc. Staff is currently developing that map and will include the map as an attachment to the staff report for the second reading of the ordinance. We are hoping to bring that back to City Council in May.

Below is a link to the most recent staff report.
https://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/16912

Thank you again, for your email and please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

Jim Cogan
 Housing and Economic Development Manager
 City of Menlo Park
 Direct: (650) 330-6614

Jim C. Cogan
 Housing and Economic Development Manager
 City Hall - 2nd Floor
 701 Laurel St.
 tel
 menlopark.org
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 From: Cline, Richard A
 Sent: Wednesday, April 4, 2018 2:05 PM
 To: ronsilzer <ronsilzer_at_(domainremoved)
 Cc: Cogan, Jim C <JCCogan_at_(domainremoved)
 Subject: city pride

Hi Ron, we just discussed this at a recent meeting. I’m cc’ing Jim Cogan who can fill you in on the timeline.

Thanks for the note.

Cheers,

Rich Cline

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On Apr 4, 2018, at 2:00 PM, ronsilzer <ronsilzer_at_(domainremoved)

is there an ordinance on the books that deals with the old non used newspaper boxes that are an eye sore around the downtown area? (example) attached.
< 20180404_101255_resized.jpg>

Received on Thu Apr 05 2018 - 10:37:01 PDT
 


 
 

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Received on Fri Apr 06 2018 - 14:24:59 PDT

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