Colorado town considers curbing number of newspaper boxes

Monday, March 23, 1998

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The City Council believes the proliferation of newspaper boxes on downtown street corners is getting out of control.

Currently as many as 21 of the boxes can be found on street corners in the town. So the council has drafted an ordinance that would allow only a dozen newspaper boxes per block and would require them to be uniform in color and design.

Under the proposed ordinance, box owners would have to pay an annual permit fee of $25 per box. They also would be required to have liability insurance in the event pedestrians tripped on them or somehow were injured by the boxes.

City Manager Mike Copp said the draft ordinance will be studied by a committee of publishers, city officials and representatives of downtown businesses. The ordinance was made public last week and sent back to the drawing board at a city council meeting Thursday night after newspaper owners complained.

The draft newspaper-rack ordinance was modeled on a similar ordinance in Salt Lake City that makes it illegal to put a newspaper box on public property without a permit.

Some Glenwood Springs-area editors say they believe the ordinance could potentially interfere with freedom of speech rights guaranteed under the First Amendment because it could limit the availability of some newspapers. A first-come first-served clause in the ordinance would cut some newspapers out of the box lineup.

“If they continue along those lines, there will be a lot of upset publishers,” said Gary Dixon, publisher of the Glenwood Springs Post.