Wednesday, September 12, 2012

SF Deletes 6 News Racks;
7 to be Removed From the Castro

(The usually hollow pedmount on Castro near Walgreens.)

Remember twelve months back I complained here, here, here, here and here, about the excessive number of empty for-profit news racks taking up precious public sidewalk space across the city and in the pedestrian congested Castro and Market vicinity? I conducted a photo survey of too many useless news racks serving no purpose other than to make money for Clear Channel via advertising, and called for returning public space to the people.

Now, word comes from Grace Moore, who runs the Department of Public Works' news rack division, that the city is finally moving to eliminate these empty pieces of street furniture:

6 pedmount units have been removed this year on Market Street, Van Ness to Beale at Davis. Only one unit has been removed from the Embarcadero and that was back in 2010. Publishers have decreased their distribution so the need for box spaces has decreased as well and fewer pedmount units are needed. 

The city’s contract with Clear Channel has always included a provision for the Director of Public Works to request the removal of pedmount units so long as the number of units requested does not exceed contract requirements. Periodicals currently being distributed at 2 or more corners within an intersection may be required to reduce distribution to only one location. This process for consolidating would potentially eliminate a pedmount unit within that intersection. 

The Market Street, Church to Castro, 18th Street, Castro to Diamond pedmount zones have been evaluated for consolidation. Through the consolidation process of as explained above, DPW has identified 7 pedmount units as candidates for removal by the end of next month. 

This is a fantastic victory for advocates of keeping public space free from commercialization and clutter. I wish DPW's Moore and her colleagues were spreading this news through the public information office of DPW because citizens should know we're regaining our sidewalks.

Unfortunately, Clear Channel's public liaison Jana Lord emailed me today to say there was no photographic documentation of the pedmounts when they were removed. I must insist that Clear Channel and DPW inform me of when the Castro's consolidation takes place, so I can be there to snap photos.

I asked Andrea Aiello, the executive director of the Castro Benefits Districts, someone who has advocated for consolidation, for her reaction:

We understand that DPW will be removing 7 ped mount news racks in the Castro/Upper Market neighborhood. We would like to thank DPW for moving quickly on removing these excess news racks which are a cause for unnecessary clutter on the city sidewalks. The quick removal is an example of successful collaboration between neighborhood activists, merchants, the Castro CBD and DPW working together to improve the streetscape and the pedestrian experience in the City.

Except for Aiello's contention that the DPW has been quick to consolidate in the Castro, I agree with her lauding of DPW to make the Castro's sidewalks more accommodating pedestrians and wheelchair users.

Now, if we could only get bicyclists to use the many bike lanes and not ride on the sidewalks . . .


Daniel said...

Great Work. YEA!!!!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. Whoever the dude in the castro is who led this fight is a rock star.