Outlaw no more
As mentioned in a flash here yesterday afternoon, we have news to report in the case of The Illegal Newsracks at 24th and Fremont. At our urging, the folks at the Trib have taken action to remedy the apparent violations of the City of Portland code caused by two of their distribution boxes at that intersection.
Now, as we found out when we went out there to inspect a little while later, they didn't do anything dramatic. But they did detach their box on the northeast corner of the intersection from the pedestrian traffic signal pole, which cures one violation. They also moved that box a few feet northward, which may or may not be far enough to get it out of the "no private use" zone required by the city's "pedestrian design guidelines." And if the box has not been moved quite far enough (we didn't have our tape measure with us to determine an exact distance), it misses the mark by a lot less than previously -- perhaps even close enough for government work. Here are the before and after shots:
Of course, the O box is still in violation of at least two city code sections, including encroachment on the "obstruction free" zone on the corner.
Over on the southwest corner of the intersection, the Trib box was a few inches over the "no private use" zone line, and they fixed that by moving it westward, switching places with a box containing publications by an outfit called "Alternatives." Now the "Alternatives" box is probably over the line by an inch or two, but again, it's close enough to legal for me. (The Trib also unhooked its box from the no-parking sign, but based on our reading of the code, that wasn't necessary for compliance.) The O box is once again still a violator. Here's the before and after:
What all this means is that we've got two fewer complaint letters to send out on Monday. At least at this intersection, at least for now, the Trib has cleaned up its act and is more or less off the hook.
Of course, the fact that it may now be in compliance with what the code requires doesn't tell us much about what the code should require. Even when they're done by the book (which seems to occur infrequently), newsracks may still constitute hazards and visual clutter that warrant stricter regulation. But we're getting way ahead of ourselves there. Let's stay focused for a while on the city rules as currently written. Specifically, we still need to get the wheels of justice turning with the O.
One last note: I say the Trib is "more or less" off the hook, because the city code technically forbids leaving anything on the sidewalk for more than two hours. I am assuming here that due to free speech-free press constitutional provisions, anything goes other than attaching to a city pole or violating the "pedestrian design guidelines." I could be wrong about that, in which case the Trib, at least in the realm of pure theory, might still be breaking the law here, even with the corrective actions it has taken.