Seattle makes new rules for newspaper boxes — Neighborhood blogs remain unregulated

Please do not set the newspaper boxes on fire (Image: CHS)

Please do not set the newspaper boxes on fire (Image: CHS)

Now that the City Council has delivered Seattle from the evil of new-era car services, the council members are turning their attentions to other important issues of city living — including “Improving the Look and Placement of Newspaper and Periodical Vending Boxes.” Council member Tom Rasmussen:

One challenge of keeping our sidewalks downtown and in our neighborhoods reasonably safe and attractive is managing the use and appearance of newspaper and periodical vending boxes.   It is not unusual to see them damaged or covered with graffiti and stickers or used as trash bins. In some cases a dozen or more are lined up at the curb in many states of disrepair and damage.

A plan three years in the marking has resulted in:

  • A shared understanding of the expectations for vending box maintenance
  • A new web-based tool (currently in final development) that will enable joint reporting (city, external stakeholders and the general public) of vending box maintenance issues, and enable us to track metrics on repairs and frequently tagged locations
  • A construction coordination requirement for public and private construction projects requiring noticing and coordination with vending box owners for the period of construction and returning the boxes to a reasonable location after construction is complete
  • SDOT will be taking a more active role in enforcement, after all other avenues of repair/replacement/outreach by the publishers has occurred
  • The stakeholder group will continue to meet monthly (or as needed) to share information, review data from the soon to be launched website and confer on any other modifications needed to the rule or the code in order to keep vending boxes in good repair.

Not addressed, apparently, are the stacks of unread, unwanted papers left in the entrances to buildings and local businesses as part of the “circulation” process.

Really, anything to help keep things tidy around here should be appreciated. We just hope the process didn’t slow down these hotly anticipated leaf blower regulations.

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9 thoughts on “Seattle makes new rules for newspaper boxes — Neighborhood blogs remain unregulated

  1. One other thing that could totally “[keep] our sidewalks downtown and in our neighborhoods … safe and attractive” would be to not have people sleeping on the sidewalk with piles of trash around them or harassing people for money.

      • It’s just that I’ve noticed Broadway has become more scary for me lately. I don’t mind people simply sleeping neatly in their bivy sacks or whatnot (I feel bad that they have nowhere to go), but there are a) so many beggars (not clear if they are actually homeless), b) so many individuals walking around with an air of being about to whip out a switchblade, and c) so many people with trash piled around them, it’s depressing–makes me not want to walk around there at night and it’s embarrassing to take anyone from out of town there. I certainly wish it were illegal to panhandle. You can say these people have the right to beg, but I claim I also have the right to be able to walk along the sidewalk (which I am paying for and they are not) and not be harassed.

      • Hm, maybe I’m not really paying for the sidewalks. I just looked it up and it seems like property owners are responsible (so I am only paying for the one in front of my building, where people sometimes pee and sleep and throw trash in the doorway, which I also do not appreciate). Anyway, I still don’t want people asking me for money when I am doing the thing a sidewalk is for–walking.

      • I think you are expressing what a lot of people are thinking lately. There really has been a change for the worse as far as more vagrants on Broadway….not sure why, but it’s very noticeable…..and, yes, very depressing.

        I would add two things to your comments: 1) panhandling is actually illegal when those who do it are sitting on the sidewalk, but this law is rarely enforced; 2) the vagrants do have somewhere to go, at least at night….they are called shelters, and there are many of them in Seattle. But some vagrants avoid them, because drinking/drugging is not allowed.

  2. Ha ha ha…good points, jseattle. I’m scratching my head…newspaper boxes? REALLY?! I’d love to see some action with more important [and uglier] graffiti problems but that’s just me.

    On that note, thank you to Seattle Parks Department for finally removing some ugly scrawls at Cal Anderson Park this morning.

    • Newspaper boxes seem trivial, and they are trivial, but sometimes it’s the little things that can improve a neighborhood. Since these are private enterprise devices on a public right of way, it seems only reasonable that the owners of these boxes should maintain them, and clean up their own messes.

      Now, let’s get SDOT to clean the crap off the street signs!

  3. Whatever happened to Councilmember Burgess idea to add stickers to the graffiti regulations? They are everywhere, and cause at least as much visual pollution to our streetscapes as graffiti scribbling does.