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Glendale News Rack Seizures Prompt Call for Hearings : Paper Dealers Seek Meeting With City Officials

Times Staff Writer

Newspaper wholesalers in Glendale this week have asked to meet with city officials following the seizure of almost 50 news racks declared illegal and the issuance of citations against several hundred others.

City workers last week began confiscating news racks, including those containing the New York Times, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and other national and local publications.

The news racks violate a 1975 ordinance that is being “vigorously enforced” for the first time in order to cut down on clutter on the city’s streets, said Kerry Morford, assistant public works director.

Financial District

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Many of the racks seized so far were removed from sidewalks in the city’s so-called “financial district” on North Brand Boulevard. City officials said similar removals are planned throughout the city in the next few weeks.

Several distributors said they wrote to the city this week, seeking hearings.

“We need to talk to them, explain our situation and get it fixed,” said Collette Witmer, an employee of News Express, distributor of the New York Times, USA Today, Investor’s Daily, Christian Science Monitor and other national publications in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

Many of the racks cited or seized exceed the city’s 42-inch height limit, were placed in illegal locations or have not been registered with the city, Morford said.

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Called Largest Sweep

Don Brockelmeyer, a street sales manager for the Los Angeles Times who reclaimed seven news racks this week and has received citations for at least 50 others, said the city’s crackdown is the largest sweep he has experienced. “All cities have codes governing news racks,” he said, “but I’ve never before seen that many racks picked up in one area.”

Morford said owners can retrieve racks confiscated by the city by paying a $15 fee for each. Racks that have not been reclaimed within 45 days “will be destroyed and hauled to the landfill,” Morford said.

The ordinance, which limits the number of news racks permitted in any one location, originally was adopted to curtail the proliferation of sexually oriented newspapers sold in the city. The Glendale City Council revised the rules in November to strengthen the regulations and ordered strict enforcement.

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