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RE: city pride

From: Cogan, Jim C <"Cogan,>
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2018 17:35:03 +0000

Mr. Silzer

Thank you for your email. As Council Member Cline mentioned, the City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance which will allow the City to regulate and address unmaintained and/or abandoned newsracks in Menlo Park on March 13, 2018.

Regarding your question, there was not previously an ordinance regulating their use in Menlo Park. The "old non used newspaper boxes that are an eye sore around the downtown area" as you referred to them, (and I agree) were installed decades ago as part of an uncodified agreement between the City and publishers in an effort to restrict the placement of modular (individually branded) racks throughout the City. Since then, the advent of the internet, social media and a 24-hr news cycle has resulted in many news organizations abandoning paper circulation, resulting in the situation you referenced.

On October 25, 2017 the City held a community meeting for stakeholders (publishers, Chamber of Commerce, residents, business owners) to receive input on how to address the complaints of abandoned and/or unmaintained newsracks in Menlo Park. There was a request at that time by one of the publishers to allow the publishers 6 months to address the problem themselves without an ordinance. Unfortunately, without an ordinance there is no way for the City to enforce maintenance standards or remove abandoned newracks, such as the ones you referenced in your email. It is worth noting that it has been almost 6 months since that first meeting and clearly the abandoned newsracks are still there and generating concerns.

On December 5, 2017, the City Council gave direction to draft an ordinance to develop a permit process for allowing newsracks, while setting placement and maintenance standards. It is our intention, that part of this effort will be removing all of the unused and/or abandoned newsracks.

On February 8, 2018, staff held a second community meeting to receive input on the proposed draft ordinance. In advance of the meeting, the draft ordinance and draft permit application were distributed to everyone who had attended the October 25th community meeting or contacted the City separately about newsracks. Extensive outreach was conducted to ensure the community, publishers and distributors were notified. A personal email invitation was sent to all editors, publications and publishers identified as distributing within the City. Personal phone calls were made to stakeholders, the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce announced the meeting in its newsletter, a Council Digest article was published, it was posted on the community calendar and Economic Development website and it was posted on Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, InMenlo and the Almanac published articles about the meeting. At the meeting, staff received positive feedback regarding the proposed draft ordinance. Distributors and publishers express
ed appreciation that the ordinance was not too restrictive, allowed them to brand the news racks while allowing them to distribute at locations they know best serve their customers. The City Attorney’s Office and staff answered all follow up questions and, after the meeting, made minor edits to the draft ordinance and permit application.

On March, 13th the City Council approved the first reading of the ordinance. However, right before the meeting there was one concern from a publisher that the new placement standards may be too restrictive. There was a request at that time that staff develop a map to illustrate where newsracks will be allowed, based on the new standards for placement to ensure sidewalk ADA accessibility and avoid conflicts with crosswalks, bike parking, benches, etc. Staff is currently developing that map and will include the map as an attachment to the staff report for the second reading of the ordinance. We are hoping to bring that back to City Council in May.

Below is a link to the most recent staff report.

Thank you again, for your email and please let me know if I can be of further assistance.


Jim Cogan
Housing and Economic Development Manager
City of Menlo Park
Direct: (650) 330-6614

Jim C. Cogan
Housing and Economic Development Manager
City Hall - 2nd Floor
701 Laurel St.
-----Original Message-----
From: Cline, Richard A
Sent: Wednesday, April 4, 2018 2:05 PM
To: ronsilzer <ronsilzer_at_(domainremoved)
Cc: Cogan, Jim C <JCCogan_at_(domainremoved)
Subject: Re: city pride

Hi Ron, we just discussed this at a recent meeting. I’m cc’ing Jim Cogan who can fill you in on the timeline.

Thanks for the note.


Rich Cline

On Apr 4, 2018, at 2:00 PM, ronsilzer <ronsilzer_at_(domainremoved)

is there an ordinance on the books that deals with the old non used newspaper boxes that are an eye sore around the downtown area? (example) attached.
Received on Thu Apr 05 2018 - 10:37:01 PDT

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