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Thread: A cure for those pesky newspaper vending boxes?

  1. #1
    Member CTPlanner's avatar
    Feb 2003
    World Headquarters of ESPN

    A cure for those pesky newspaper vending boxes?

    Can anyone point me to some good examples of those newsrack display boxes that are designed to accommodate multiple periodicals in one reasonably attractive piece of street furniture? The (seemingly never-ending) proliferation of individual newspaper vending boxes in our downtown has once again caught the attention of the zoning commission, and I'm trying to find a manageable solution to the problem.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2

    Oct 2001
    Solano County, California
    Good luck. The weird little publications still seem to multiply, unless you have many spaces that there are enough for the Bingo Bugle and Weekly World Worker and Hubba Hubba Girls, you'll still have a chaotic streetscape.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Blog entries


    Ban the newspaper boxes from the ROW. You still allow someone to sell them by hand to avoid free speech issues. (since when does an inanimate object have free speech rights ) I'm tired of dodging these commercial devices that are always planted right in the middle of MY SIDEWALK!!!!!!!!!!!!! Require that newspapers be sold in the nearest commercial establishment (restaurant's, 7-11's and various 24 hour stores....)

    Finally, do not allow newspaper boxes immediately outside (on same property) of retail establishments, certainly not the 24 hour stores.....jeesh and most certainly not located in the pedestrian paths

    By the way, I want to see a court case declaring inanimate objects to have a "free speech" right And NO these aren't "signs"
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  4. #4
    There are some of these popping up in NYC:

    and when I was somewhere in Florida I saw something similar to these:

    In my image search I came across this image from vancoover:

    But it looks like they've just gated them in on three sides.

    All of them seem to require some municipal funding. Or at least a cooperative effort on behalf of the local papers.

    Many airports also have alot of designs similar to these for efficency of space/need to have national and local papers available. you might want to look into that.

    And by the way don't be upset at the newspaper boxes! Boxes are a sign that you have a thriving community of people who both walk on the streets and are a literate well informed population. They're more of a symbol that your community is doing well... then they are a blight on the cityscape.

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    Last edited by NHPlanner; 26 Jul 2006 at 11:55 AM.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
    Jan 2005
    Since the issue, I assume, is most with the free papers and not the paid papers, it might be a bit difficult to corrall all the freebies into one single, cooperative rack... They don't exactly have similar resources to the large guys.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    I am no expert, but I seem to remember there is a free speech issue, so that banning them from the public sidewalk is not a legal strategy.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
    Dec 2003
    Downtown Atlanta
    Quote Originally posted by Big Green Scott
    and when I was somewhere in Florida I saw something similar to these:

    That's pretty much the way the ones in Atlanta's downtown looks like. The sidewalk was being taken over by paperracks, especially the freebie papers that used very cheap platic boxes that didn't stand up to the weather or homeless very well. The local major paper threw a fit and I believe took the city to court but in the end, we ended up with the much nicer looking combo boxes. The individual boxes still pop up from time to time (I believe they're allowed if all the combo boxes in a location are taken) but they're color matched to the rest of the boxes. It's a great improvement. I don't know if the city owns and rents out the combo boxes or if the vendors are required to supply their own box to place in the box matrix that conforms to certain specifications.

    While I would like to see the boxes gone all together (for space reasons) and replaced by real newsstands (our street vending program here stinks but is about to be given a total overhaul), if we ended up with vendors selling papers on the street corner, it would freak out the suburbanites. One of my co-workers was complaining about the "homeless" guys selling papers outside the train station near the office. I use that station everyday and the guys selling papers have licenses from the transit authority to sell papers. While they're not dressed up, they don't appear to be homeless either. But any strange guy selling something translates into "dangerous homeless guy" in the minds of those who are only use to buying from a bigbox store or from Girl Scouts.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 26 Jul 2006 at 11:55 AM.
    As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken

  8. #8
    May 2006
    Chicago, Illinois
    Using people sales rather than machine sales has the benefit of fixing several problems at once that far outweigh to cost of "dangerous homeless people"

    For one, you are employing the Urban Poor, far too often overlooked and people who can be helped with urban planning to some extent. It may be a dismal job, but it is a job none the less and gets people a leg up.

    Another benefit is the astetics of no more ugly metal boxes, obviously. And it might not be too much better looking at a guy in rags. But he's there anyway and if it's that big a problem, the newspaper company can invest in a nice shirt that says: "Anytown Herald" or whatever you'd like....free advertisting.

    Mobility is perhaps one of the greatest benefits to the newspaper. Different corners have different traffic at different times of the day. The rail station during rush hour, the food court two blocks away at lunch, the beach on the weekend. A steel box can not move between these, let alone discern when to move and when to make exceptions, a person can. This is a higher marginal revenue for the company (more profit)

    As far as the "dangerous homeless Man" goes, there's screening and liscensing, and once they have a job, they'll stop being so dangerous, wont they?

    also adds to the local economy
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 26 Jul 2006 at 11:55 AM. Reason: double reply

  9. #9
    Jun 2006
    New York, New York
    Well I actually don't mind the boxes myself, but I know they're not for everyone. However, one suggestion in regards to newspaper distribution and the fear people have of "dangerous homeless guys". Here in NY we have two free daily papers, AM NY and NY Metro. Most of the day they are just placed in open-air racks inside certain locations or in boxes outside. However, during the morning and afternoon commutes they pay people to distribute them outside subway stations. Most of the guys are NOT homeless and look more than decent, but one measure the papers took to make sure people didn't confuse them for homeless people was to give them these bright neon green/yellow vests (like the kind crossing guards wear) that have the newspaper company logo on them. It gives off an air of officiality (so people arent as scared off) and what not, and I assume the vests are cheap too. So you can encourage your local paper companies to possibly take that route .

  10. #10
    Cyburbian fructa's avatar
    Nov 2005
    at large
    ...but the boxes on the street are so convenient, and the people handing out papers (e.g. at subway entrances, with their arms across your path) are freaking annoying, and far more obstructive to foot traffic than the boxes...

  11. #11
    These are not things to be afraid of! Yes, they can get in the way if not properly installed in the ROW, particularly if you have a dozen unrelated and differently designed enclosures chained to some random pole, but I don't see banning these to handsales or only in retail establishments as a reasonable solution.

    In the communities where I live and work (Monterey and Pacific Grove, California) all publications are distributed through banks of distribution boxes installed by the cities, with freebies next to for-sale publications. While some of these freebies are tacky ad-rags selling cars or real estate, most are solid community newspapers printed on a weekly or monthly basis. Distribution by hand or a newsvendor is simply not feasible or reasonable for local publications trying to scrape by on advertising revenue alone (i.e. free to the consumer). One of the reasons these freebies are so popular and effective as a news-source is the fact that they're free and available on nearly every streetcorner, coffee-shop or restaurant. Hell, one of the jurisdictions I contract with does all of it's public noticing in one of these freebies rather than the conventional daily newspaper. If the weekly's charged they'd probably die from lack of circulation.

    Also, the durable metal boxes are watertight and a lot more resistant to vandalism than many of the cheaper boxes I've seen.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
    Mar 2005
    Clayobyrne, CB
    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    I am no expert, but I seem to remember there is a free speech issue, so that banning them from the public sidewalk is not a legal strategy.
    Both Boston and San Fran have won court cases/settlements over the issue. Boston banned them completely within certain architecturally significant areas (Back Bay), while SF reached an agreement with the papers to use newspaper condos (as seen in photos below). Boston also highly regulates the newsracks throughout the city, requiring licenses and setting stricts guidelines as to placement and number of racks in one location. Public works trucks drive around and seize the racks that are not in compliance.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Apr 2003
    Somewhere between the mountains and the ocean.
    Go old school and require some kid on a box selling them!

    In reality, I am a big van of news paper/ magazine vendors who are there in person and not just a box.
    If you're not growing, you're dying. - Lou Holtz

  14. #14
    Dec 2005
    New York City

    34 Street and Park Ave in Manhattan

    A successful community based group has figured out how to solve the newspaper box problem by simply consolidating the boxes into one unobtrusive unit. The problem is the Metro and nyAM newspaper hawkers who litter the sidewalks, stations and trains with the free dailies.

  15. #15
    Jan 2005
    San Diego, California
    Just to provide a counter perspective.... when I moved to California, I was dismayed by the lack of newspaper boxes. In the Midwest, you can usually buy a newspaper outside many restaurants, especially fast food places, so you have something to read over lunch or dinner. I'd usually pick up a paper or two and get caught up on the world/local events, and I found many other people did too.

    In SoCal, many places consider these boxes "nuisances", so they're not as common. I still eat at restaurants -- actually a lot more here than in the Midwest for reasons that may belong in a different thread -- but I rarely find newspapers outside. Since I'm not a morning/breakfast person and I don't read the paper in the morning, I find I rarely read the local papers anymore. The local radio is unimpressive here, so I listen to XM and Sirius radio.

    The end result? I don't know what's going on in my local community as much as I would if papers were more accessible. Sure, many (but certainly not all) service stations sell papers (again, in the Midwest, I found all did, but here I find more that don't than do), but newspapers are an impulse buy -- something you pick up on the way into a building.

    In my opinion, the concern over unsightliness of newspaper boxes (something I do not agree with -- I see far more graffiti on telephone poles and even trees than on newspaper boxes) has taken precedence over informing the public or creating a community vibe. Even if one reads the paper anyway, many of us truly enjoy walking by a stack of newspaper boxes and reading the headlines -- it's an enjoyable part of urban and suburban life for me, and in my opinion, certain businesses almost have an obligation to contribute to the community by providing the opportunity to purchase newspapers to the public. As far as newspaper boxes on sidewalks -- again, it's an important part of urban living in my opinion, and to have one mega-box limits the smaller publications' ability to compete.

    Personally, I would like to see the cities out here ease restrictions on newspaper boxes -- newspapers are a good thing, not a bad thing.

  16. #16
    May 2006
    Chicago, Illinois
    While this is only semi-related, it is interesting. I just read an article in the Chicago Reader Newspaper, and independent, free weekly newspaper put out across Chicagoland filled with the general things you might expect in a free, independent urban newspaper. This week they featured an article about "The Littlest Library". It seems a young man in the Logan Square Neighborhood on the city's North Side, a neighborhood that is mostly working class families and single artisans but on the way up, comandeered a 'Reader' newspaper box, gutted it, and labeled it "Chicago Book Exchange, Logan Square Branch", stuffed with a dozen or so books, and returned it to the corner he found it with an explanation to please take books to read and if you have any, leave them. Every day he checks and the box is full of new books, good books. This may not really solve the problem but it is interesting

  17. #17
    Where may our town purchase "modules" for containing 6 or 8 "newsbins"? WE cannot ban them but we can control them.

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