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Confusion Over Enforcing Law Delays Seizure of News Racks

June 09, 1988|STEPHANIE O'NEILL | Times Staff Writer

Confusion over enforcement of a Glendale news rack ordinance has prompted city officials to back off their plan to confiscate nearly 100 racks, many of which contain the New York Times, USA Today and other national publications.

Assistant Traffic Engineer Kerry Moreford said his department will not begin seizing the racks until a uniform system of citing racks that do not conform to the ordinance is developed.

Previously, the manner in which illegal news racks were tagged was not an issue because the law, used primarily against sexually explicit publications, was enforced on a complaint basis.

City workers began comprehensive enforcement only last month, shortly after a Glendale Superior Court judge ruled against a constitutional challenge of the 1975 ordinance by a distributor of sexually oriented publications.

However, Moreford said, his department did not proceed with the seizures because he discovered mistakes in some of the tagging. There was no clear record of which news racks were cited or which of the law's provisions the tagged racks violated, he said.

'Needed More Guidance'

The law limits the number of news racks on a city block and regulates identification, size and certain conditions of use.

"When the fellows went out to cite them, they needed more guidance," Moreford said.

There also appeared to be a problem with the notification and appeal process.

The ordinance allows a distributor 10 days to correct the violation or to request an appeal before the city seizes the news rack. However, it only requires that the city post a notice on the news rack. Moreford said he may also require that violation notices be mailed to the distributor who operates the cited rack.

After the news racks were tagged last month, only an attorney representing the distributor of sexually oriented publications contacted the city before the deadline. The attorney requested and was granted an extension because his client was out of town, city officials said.

Moreford said he will start re-evaluating the system soon.

"We need to have better records and devise certain forms for reviewing, citing and issuing of notices," he said.

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