The Eastsider published a story last week about the closure of two longtime Echo Park newsstands as the city began to conduct a citywide inventory of newsstands. Many readers complained about what they considered as unnecessary enforcement against small business owners. But the city’s Department of Public Works actually wants more power to regulate newsstands, according to a motion introduced this week by Councilman Jose Huizar . “The City does get complaints (some operators selling items they are not licensed to sell or not properly maintaining their stands, etc.), so more efficient permitting will help process and respond to complaints,” said council district spokesman Rick Coca in an email. “We also want to make sure the regulations about placement are sensitive to historic issues, so they aren’t blocking historic features of the sidewalk or buildings.”
Part of the problem say officials is the lack of consistent, city wide regulation and permits for newsstands (which, unlike news racks, are staffed by a vendor). Newsstands located downtown, for example, must apply for a permit. But, outside downtown, a free newsstand permit is filed only if the vendors voluntarily decide to do so. Many apparently don’t, making it difficult for inspector to enforce laws and respond to complaints. Public Works tried to win more enforcement power over newsstands a few years ago but that proposal went no where. Now, according to the council motion: “The time has come to develop updated, clear and consistent regulations for newsstand permits across the City.
City staff now have 30 days to provide the City Council’s Public Works Committee, which is headed by Huizar, to come up with recommendations for greater newsstand enforcement. It looks like the Echo Park Newsstand won’t be reopening anytime soon.