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Promote La Jolla fights news rack ‘pollution’

Group seeking new, clean design

Progress is being made on a proposal which would remove the visual blight created by the hodgepodge of news racks scattered throughout the Village of La Jolla.

“We’ve been making some headway,” said Susie Greenwald of Promote La Jolla’s Design Committee, which is leading the news rack reform effort. “We are looking for a uniform news rack for the community.”

Tiffany Sherer, executive director for the business improvement district, said the group has been looking into creating a standardized news rack that would be as attractive as it is functional, for a couple of years.

“We’ve been doing research on different communities that have prototypes that we like,” she said, “and on companies that could actually manufacture it for us.”

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Sherer said they were especially impressed by one existing model used in Waikiki, Hawaii.

“What makes a news rack nice is the way it blends into the community, its landscaping and its functionality,” said Sherer. “Ones we saw that we liked were recessed into some greenscape in hedges. It also needs to contain just the right number of racks.”

Sherer added the racks can’t present tripping hazards, and the materials they’re made out of have to be rust-resistant and otherwise hold up against the elements.

Whatever type of rack is chosen, Sherer said, their use must conform with the merchant group’s primary mission which is “to make our streetscape more appealing for visitors and shoppers.”

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PLJ has been getting a growing number of complaints that the racks are a problem that needs attention and went so far as to send an e-mail directing those who have an issue with them to contact the city’s code enforcement office.

Jim Reed, co-owner of The Cottage restaurant at 7702 Fay Ave., is one of them.

“It’s really time that someone other than the merchants and the residents pointed out this blight with the boxes, at least half of which are not being used or serviced,” said Reed about the 100 or so racks around town.

“They’re broken. They’re full of trash. Some are turned over and dumped on the sidewalk. They’re an eyesore. Plus, it doesn’t reflect very well on La Jolla.”

Reed cited one set of 11 news racks in the 500 block of Pearl Street in front of Jack In The Box and the bus stop, as a prime example.

“Of the 11 racks only five are being used,” he said, also noting that the same holds true on Prospect Street and Fay and Girard avenues.

Tony Khalil in the city’s Code Enforcement Department said other areas of San Diego, like the downtown Gaslamp Quarter, also are working on developing standardized news racks.

“These are newsracks that are protected by guard rails and bars and give a consistent look,” he said, adding the city adopted a newsrack ordinance a couple of years ago, which regulates standards for racks in the public right-of-way. Such new sracks require permits costing $10 a year.

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