November 2017
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Newsrack Law Facing a Summer Sneak Attack: Let Your Voice Be Heard Against Intro. 363

After many years of citizens’ complaints about newsracks blighting our sidewalks and blocking pedestrian curb cuts, bus stops, access to fire hydrants and more, the New York City Council passed Local Law 23, which regulates the placement and maintenance of newsracks on city sidewalks. Last April, the City’s Department of Transportation started to enforce this law. Now an industry-supported bill (Intro. 363) seeks to undermine the enforcement of Local Law 23.

During the years of struggle to get Local Law 23 passed, the publishing industry first promised it would police itself, then negotiated and renegotiated to reach a bill it finally decided was soft enough to live with. Now the industry finds itself inconvenienced by the City’s efforts to enforce the very law it agreed to.

The publishers have made no attempt to self-regulate the placement and maintenance of their newsracks. A group of concerned citizens on the Upper East Side have made numerous attempts to hand-feed them diligently compiled spreadsheets listing exactly where their non-compliant boxes are located, but our sidewalks remain littered with thousands of newsracks placed illegally and maintained despicably.

New York City’s government is now being asked to restrict New York City residents’ rights to safe and clean sidewalks so that an industry that has done nothing but flaunt the law can continue to do so without fear of a fine.

At City Council public hearings June 14 and June 23, Vanessa Gruen, MAS’s director of special projects, and other concerned citizens testified against Intro. 363. Despite their and your efforts, the bill moved out of committee and the full Council approved it. The mayor is planning to sign the bill in City Hall’s Blue Room at 4:00 p.m. on July 12. The ceremony is open to the public.

We need for the mayor to understand that we want our sidewalks freed from one industry’s overbearing private use of our largest public space.