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News Racks Seized as City Enforces Law to Cut Clutter

Times Staff Writer

Glendale officials Tuesday began confiscating news racks that violate a city ordinance, including some that contain the New York Times, USA Today and other national publications.

More than 100 racks, mostly on the city’s main boulevards, have been cited and are scheduled to be seized within the next few days, said Kerry Morford, assistant public works director.

The action is the first vigorous enforcement of a 1975 news rack ordinance that had been used primarily against sexually oriented newspapers. The ordinance was upheld by a Glendale Superior Court judge in March after it was challenged in a 1986 lawsuit filed by a distributor of sexually oriented newspapers.

The Glendale City Council in November revised the rules to strengthen regulations, which went into effect this month. The ordinance requires that all news racks be registered with the city and meet strict rules on the appearance, height and placement.

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The ordinance is designed to limit the number of news racks permitted on a block, Morford said. In some locations, as many as 20 racks have been lined up, creating a cluttered appearance. The new rules permit a maximum of eight racks in a single location.

Priorities Established

The ordinance gives priority in placement to general-circulation newspapers--those that devote at least 25% of their space to local or wire service news and are published 5 days or more a week. Second priority is given to newspapers that publish two to four times a week. Weeklies are given third priority.

Morford said all distributors were asked to register their racks so that the city could assign permitted locations. He said red tags alerting distributors to the rules have been posted on more than 100 racks and letters were mailed to the companies. Few have complied.

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Most of the racks that have been cited so far are on Brand Boulevard, Morford said. The city will continue to cite boxes throughout the city and remove those not in compliance.

He said 21 racks were seized Tuesday and taken to the city storage yard.

Once the boxes are removed, the owner will have 45 days to reclaim them. Morford said unspecified “reasonable charges” will be levied for the cost of removing and storing racks.

Distributors said Glendale’s action is not unusual among cities seeking greater control over a proliferation of news racks.

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“We’re very aware of the ordinance and watching it very carefully,” said David Quance of News Express, which handles distribution of the New York Times, USA Today, Investor’s Daily and other national publications in Glendale, Pasadena and the San Fernando Valley.

Quance said he expects to redeem any stands confiscated by the city and to bring them into compliance with the rules.

While noting that restrictions “are pretty common,” Quance said Glendale’s regulations may be overly strict. He said the blue and white news racks used by USA Today, for instance, exceed the city’s 42-inch height limitation. He said newspaper officials are discussing such issues with the city.


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