Rack and Ruin: City Ramps Up Newsrack Monitoring, Many in Disrepair as Print Circulation Continues Plummet

Published : Monday, March 25, 2019 | 5:35 AM

A city committee Tuesday will hear a report which says the print newspaper industry’s readership woes have resulted in a 69% decline in the number of newsracks in Pasadena over the last eight years, and many of the remaining ones are in bad shape.

The report was prepared in response to a request from Councilmember Margaret McAustin, as well as to citizen complaints and inquiries about newsracks not maintained properly or have been left empty for some time.

Just this month, Public Works crews started removing some of the unpermitted racks after issuing citations to their owners, the report announced.

As an information item in the Municipal Services Committee agenda for Tuesday, the report shows the number of news rack installations have declined significantly, from more than 400 allowed in the early 2010s, to only 180 last year, and 125 so far in 2019.

The report prepared by Public Works Director Ara Maloyan indicated the decreasing number of news racks in Pasadena’s commercial areas could be attributed to the gradual decline in the popularity of hardcopy newsprint, “due to online subscription, social media, and environmental awareness.”

The department on Tuesday will provide an update on the enforcement effort to the Municipal Services Committee, and discuss the standards under the Pasadena Municipal Code governing the installation and maintenance of news racks.

Most of the permitted news racks in Pasadena are located along major arterial corridors within the City’s commercial districts, such as the Old Pasadena Management District, South Lake Business District, and the Pasadena Playhouse District.

The most common routes where they are located include Colorado Blvd.., Fair Oaks Avenue, Lake Avenue and Arroyo Parkway, with a small number located on Washington Blvd., Walnut Street, and Orange Grove Blvd.

The Public Works Department report also showed pictures of news racks in various stages of disrepair, including some that have been so structurally compromised and dilapidated that they could pose a hazard to passing pedestrians.

Since January, Public Works has also started implementing additional measures to enhance the City’s monitoring and enforcement efforts related to the Citywide news racks program. The measures include requiring owners to attach a City-issued permit sticker to each installation, maintaining a continuous tracking and listing of permitted locations, and conducting quarterly inspections of all news racks, among others.

Eventually, Public Works plans to present a proposal to increase the annual fee for maintaining news racks, which currently is at $12.44 and does not include the cost of permitting and monitoring, the report said.

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