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When News Racks Become Trash Receptacles

By Kerry Morrison

July 24, 2014

More than 10 years ago, a coalition of business improvement districts (BIDs) and neighborhood organizations, banned together to seek changes to the city’s news rack ordinance.  The group called itself CLEAN, which stood for Coalition for LA’s Enforcement Applied to Newsracks.  The CLEAN coalition celebrated the passage of a precedent-setting news rack ordinance, which, among other things, limited the number racks that could be placed in the public right-of-way and required that every rack be a standard olive green, to avoid visual clutter in our community.

The ordinance also requires that the racks be kept “in good repair at all times.”  (Section 1. (7) A)

One day, I was standing at the SW corner of Sunset and Vine and I saw a pick-up truck swing by a group of news racks at that corner, and without even leaving the back of the truck, a worker launched a bundle of “LA Express” publications into the waiting news rack.  Now, how did he manage to do this without even stepping foot out of the back of the truck?  Because the front panel of the LA Express news rack was missing.  It seemed an ingenious way to fill news racks quickly – just remove the front panel, and one doesn’t hardly have to slow down when replenishing a publication.

Suddenly I started to notice all the LA Express racks in Hollywood.  Very  few of them had their front panel intact!  Was this a planned strategy to “replenish product,” or was this the outcome of deferred or no maintenance?  No matter the reason, these broken racks served as a magnet for trash and graffiti.  They add to a semblance of blight.

Does this news rack look like it's in "good repair"?

Does this news rack look like it’s in “good repair”?

I hired an intern to canvass the streets of both BIDs to identify every broken newsrack (of any publication).  What did we find?  Thirty-one broken newsracks; every one of them LA Express.  Now, if this is the occurrence in our two BIDs, what does this say about the state LA Express newsracks throughout the city?  It would seem this company has complete disregard for the impact their negligence has on a neighborhood that is trying to stay appealing to pedestrians, visitors and residents.

The list has been submitted to the city’s Department of Public Works for enforcement.  More to follow.

Kerry Morrison is executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance.  She serves as a Mayoral appointee to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and blogs at www.onlyinhollywood.org.

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