Newport Beach will consider replacing ‘unsightly’ newsracks along Coast Highway


Newport Beach wants to regulate the design and placement of sidewalk newsracks in Corona del Mar to, according to the city, preserve the safety and aesthetics of the area.

The creation of “fixed pedestal zones” would consolidate and standardize newspaper and magazine distribution racks in gangbox-style units, affixed securely to the sidewalk, in six designated high-activity areas along Coast Highway between Avocado and Poppy avenues. The City Council will take up the issue Tuesday.

The proposed regulations come at the suggestion of the Corona del Mar Business Improvement District, whose members assert that the current assortment of smaller, freestanding newsracks is “unsightly and not in keeping with the nature of Corona del Mar Village,” according to a city staff report.

City staff further determined that several of the 47 newsracks along Coast Highway did not meet existing code guidelines for maintenance.

Linda Leonhard, president and CEO of the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce and a consultant for the business district, said some racks are blocking car doors in street parking spaces. Others are tagged by graffiti, crushed from being sat on, or are generally old and dated, she added.

“They’ve been an eyesore,” Leonhard said.

Bernie Svalstad, the business improvement district’s chairman, said the ordinance is similar to the newsrack controls on Balboa Island. There, freestanding racks are clustered in a few tourist-heavy areas along the 200 and 300 blocks of Marine Avenue.

“The newsracks (in Corona del Mar) are in terrible condition and have remained in terrible condition, so we want to get rid of this blight,” he said.

Each publication seeking a box within a new fixed unit would need a city permit, as they do currently. The new newsracks will have enough slots for publications already being distributed along Coast Highway in Corona del Mar, including the Daily Pilot and Los Angeles Times.

These publications would not need to pay another permit fee during the transition, and their hardware installation will be covered by the city. Permit fees have yet to be established.

The city suggests a two-level, three-tower modular newsrack in a dark green color scheme, with enclosed spaces for paid and free publications. The units would be installed at Coast Highway’s intersections with Acacia, Marigold, Orchid and Poinsettia avenues, and both sides of Coast Highway at Goldenrod Avenue. The city suggests beginning the changeover by June.

The proposed ordinance notes that the new rules would not prohibit freestanding newsracks elsewhere in the city.

Museum House final rescission also on agenda

In other agenda items, the Council will potentially adopt an ordinance rescinding its approval of the Museum House high-rise condominium development.

This is a procedural vote. Following a petition effort organized by local activists who called for a public vote on the project, the council decided Feb. 28 to revoke the entitlements, which it approved last year, rather than call an election.

The project would have replaced the Orange County Museum of Art with a 25-story, 100-unit luxury condo development at 850 San Clemente Drive in Newport Center, while the museum would have moved into a newly built facility at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.

An Orange County Superior Court judge denied OCMA’s request Wednesday for a temporary restraining order that would have delayed the council formalizing its decision.

The council will also consider forming a committee to study local election reforms.

Council members Diane Dixon, Jeff Herdman and Scott Peotter would serve on the committee and study reforms in response to concerns over fund-raising limits, use of the city seal and other election rules.

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