S.F. gang-rack plan hits snags p.15

By: M.L. Stein Squabbling over committee makeup slows implementation

San Francisco's plan for replacing free-standing news racks with pedmounts has become ensnarled in bickering between the Department of Public Works and newspapers over the makeup of the committee overseeing the changeover and the enabling ordinance itself.
The Newsrack Advisory Committee currently contains no representatives of the city's two dailies and two major weeklies.
The San Francisco Newspaper Agency, the joint business and production arm of the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner, also is unhappy over proposed restrictions on what newspapers the multiple racks can display at certain locations. An ordinance adopted last May requires that papers sold at an existing kiosk cannot be in a pedmount closer than 100 feet away.
The news rack law has been controversial from the start. In August, the joint agency, which bid for the contract, and several weeklies were stunned by the city's decision to accept a bid from Adshel Inc., a New York City-based company that has never built or operated newspaper racks.
Adshel's deal with the city is not yet cemented and the newspaper agency still considers itself in the running for the franchise.
Adshel was not among the original bidders that had installed prototype mounts on city streets. A fundamental problem is that neither the dailies, nor most of the weeklies, want pedmounts at all. They claim multiple racks rob each of their individual identities.
The composition of the news rack committee, picked by city public works chief Mark Primeau, has produced a rare showing of solidarity between the alternative San Francisco Bay Guardian and the dailies.
In a recent editorial headed "The news-rack mess," the Guardian complained that none of the city's four largest papers is represented on the committee, nor are unionized drivers who stock the daily newspaper racks." The editorial called the bidding "deeply-flawed" and said it led to selection of an "utterly unqualified contractor."
SFNA circulation director Steve Hearst said that a recent meeting with city officials and newspaper people became so fractious that another session was set for October to try to resolve the issues.
DPW news rack manager Dan Brugmann, who chairs the committee, said SFNA was ineligible because it was a bidder.
The 11-member panel includes representatives from USA Today; the thrice-weekly San Francisco Independent; weekly San Francisco Downtown; classified paper San Francisco Advertiser; Independent Grocers Association; Market Street Association, an architectural firm; a law firm; and the Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco.
Hearst said he was particularly annoyed by the ordinance's 100-foot rule, as it affects Chronicle and Examiner sales from European-style kiosks. "I tried to explain to the committee that the kiosks are not open at night while newspapers in racks are available 24 hours," he related. "I see no reason why we can't have our papers in both locations, no matter how close they are."
Brugmann, whose father, Bruce Brugmann, is editor and publisher of the Guardian and an outspoken foe of pedestal-mounted racks, said SFNA did not object at public hearings on the ordinance. But he allowed that the law could be changed. Weeklies supported the 100-foot limit because they are locked out of kiosks.
?(One of the multiple-title racks tested in San Francisco) [Caption]
?(Editor & Publisher Web Site:http:///www.mediainfo. com) [Caption]
?(copyright: Editor & Publisher September 19, 1998) [Caption]


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