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Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 3:55 pm | Fair 69º


Santa Barbara Looks To Crack Down On News Racks, Charge Annual Fees

City proposes an annual fee for news racks, requiring fresh paint or replacement to make them look the same

Santa Barbara wants to clean up the look of the more than 750 news racks all over the city, including these in front of the Post Office at 836 Anacapa St.
Santa Barbara wants to clean up the look of the more than 750 news racks all over the city, including these in front of the Post Office at 836 Anacapa St.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The city of Santa Barbara wants to regulate more than 750 news racks around town, forcing owners to pay an annual fee and eventually upgrade or buy more attractive, modern news racks. 

John Ewasiuk, principal civil engineer for the city, said he expects the new regulations to result in fewer news racks in the city.

"We anticipate there will be at least a 10-percent reduction in news racks," Ewasiuk said during a recent budget hearing on the matter. "The media system, the mechanism by which people get information, is changing, and will continue to change. Once we implement the fees I expect a further reduction." 

The new rack regulations will go before the Santa Barbara City Council's Ordinance Committee on Tuesday, and then to the full City Council for a decision.

The city wants to charge owners $13 per rack annually. The city also owns its own "cabinets," where companies place newspapers or magazines.

The city will charge those customers $18 annual fees. All new news racks will cost $236.

Central Coast Circulation owns the largest number of news racks in the city with 284, according to Ewasiuk. Those racks are home to Casa, Homes Magazine, Family Life and other publications. 

City officials say they have worked closely with "stakeholders" on the process.

Manuel Cardoso, owner of Central Coast Circulation, however, isn't thrilled with the new regulations. All together, he said, it is going to cost him an extra $5,000 annually to run his business. 

"Either we have registered racks and we pay the fee or we don't do business in the city," Cardoso said. "We do not have a choice, but to go to them."

In addition to the fees, the city wants to make the racks look uniform. Owners will have to comply with rules laid down by the Architectural Board of Review and Historic Landmarks Commission, and it's proposed to have racks painted a shade of green or, if they are really old, replaced all together.

"They are trying to reduce the number of racks in the city," Cardoso said. 

Brian Smith owns the second-most, with 209. Those racks are home to the Montecito Journal, the Santa Barbara Sentinel and others.

The Santa Barbara News-Press owns 101 and the Santa Barbara Independent owns 77 racks, Ewasiuk said. 

The numbers, Ewasiuk said, were derived from a city survey that shows a total of 770 news racks in the city, but he added that there is no official paperwork documenting the actual number of news racks in the city. 

City officials say they have received "numerous complaints" regarding the condition of news racks. The city would like every news rack owner to register and pay the fees by June 30, 2016. 

"The goal here is to have those news racks be improved," Ewasiuk said at the recent finance committee meeting. "There's a need now for a big improvement in the news rack maintenance."

Councilman Harwood "Bendy" White said he appreciated the city's efforts to "tame this mini tiger."

"It's not been an easy process," White said at that meeting. "It's one more piece of beautification of our city."

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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