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Business group gets Town Council support for uniform newsrack

Promote La Jolla is one of 18 business improvement districts in the city and 200 statewide. Representing 1,200-plus business tax holders in a 30-block radius of the Village, the organization is tasked with marketing the community’s commercial district, as well as maintaining and enhancing its visual appeal.

Public pressure is mounting for the business improvement district to curb the number of unsightly newsracks in the Village, according to Promote La Jolla Executive Director Tiffany Sherer.

“There’s actually 247 of them,” said Sherer. “You walk down our beautiful streets and there are rows and rows of newsracks. We’ve talked about putting up a uniform newsrack that reflected our community.”

Standardizing newsracks would transform the existing hodgepodge of styles into a more attractive, community-friendly rack that could possibly have a community map on the back to give guests a point of reference.

“We could put a bench (at the Post Office) and a trash can,” said Sherer, “and really show the community what we can do.”

The cost of putting in a model newsrack is expensive. Sherer said a uniform newsrack is about $10,000.

“We need some funds just to do the demo project,” she said.

The streetscape agreement between La Joll Town Council and the business group has been in effect since 1992, according to Sherer.

“It allows for beautification of our public right-of-way,” Sherer said, “so that the Town Council can participate in providing benches, trashcans and in beautification of the Village in general.”

Town Council President Glen Rasmussen wants to make certain that, if the council participates in the agreement, it’s supported by a financial commitment.

“How can that be accomplished?” he said. “What does Promote La Jolla envision as the role of the Town Council?”

Sherer said the partnership streamlines the process with the city to create public improvements, like installing street benches.

“Many of those benches are owned by donors,” said Sherer, “and for many years, we’ve been able to replace benches that are broken without having to pull a permit for every bench downtown at City Hall. We have a blanket opportunity to make these improvements.”

Orrin Gabsch, a past president of La Jolla Town Council, urged the group to renew the streetscape agreement with Promote La Jolla. He feels confident community groups will donate money for community beautification.

“Let’s go to Kiwanis and Rotary and other civic organizations,” Gabsch said. “We could secure some funding, particularly for that newsrack project.”

Town Councilwoman Linda Hunt applauded the idea of installing benches, trashcans and a model newsrack. But she questioned the need for so many newsracks in the community.

“Is there a plan to eliminate some of those?” she asked.

Sherer’s answer, simply, was no.

“It’s a very complicated issue,” Sherer said. “The city of San Diego has rules and regulations that specify the placement of newsracks. It’s a freedom issue. Hopefully, we could accomodate everyone who would want to go (into the model newsrack).”

Sherer said New York City enacted a uniform newsrack policy in an 80-block area. She said nearly all publications have complied with that policy.

“Our goal is - if we get this demonstration project off the ground - is to get everyone into those racks,” she said. “Once that’s successful, we can talk about multiplying those racks.”