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Height Revision : Glendale Puts Off Action on News Racks

March 16, 1989|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

Warned that rows of high news racks could conceal young pedestrians from drivers, the Glendale City Council this week postponed action revising a 14-year-old law that limits the heights of the racks.

Vendors of national and local newspapers, including the New York Times, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times, have been negotiating with the city to revise the law after city workers in December confiscated almost 50 racks and tagged several hundred others for seizure.

Vendors complained that the law, which limits the height to 42 inches, is unfair because only one manufacturer makes a rack that low. Forcing distributors to replace their racks would create a monopoly for one manufacturer, distributors complained.

As a result, officials this week proposed that the height limitation be raised to 48 inches.

However, Councilman Jerold Milner objected. Since the ordinance also permits placement of news racks within five feet of a crosswalk, Milner said a row of curb-side boxes could conceal a child about to cross a street from a motorist driving into a crosswalk.

March 28 Action

City Atty. Frank R. Manzano said the law will be revised to allow a further setback from the intersection. The ordinance is scheduled to be returned for council action March 28.

City officials maintain that strict rules are needed to cut down clutter on city streets, which have had as many as 20 news racks in a row in a single location. The ordinance permits only eight racks at one site and a maximum of 16 in a block.

The rule was originally adopted in 1975 to curtail the proliferation of sexually oriented newspapers sold in the city. But the ordinance, as well as laws adopted by many other cities in the state and the nation, has repeatedly been challenged as violating constitutional freedom of speech.

Glendale revised its ordinance in November after a similar law in Arcadia was upheld as constitutional by the state courts.

The Arcadia rule has since been modified through the courts to permit 48-inch rack heights instead of the more restrictive 42-inch limitation.

Other revisions in Glendale would permit more than one news rack containing the same publication at the same location.

George Miller, public works director, said that revision was requested by vendors who supply newspapers at locations where the demand for certain papers is greater than can be contained in a single box, such as in the financial district on upper Brand Boulevard.

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