Newspaper Vending Boxes

One of the causes of roadside clutter is the so-called newspaper boxes which spring up in clusters in many places. I say "so-called" because many of them are just advertising booklets - no "news". Example, this photo of the front of the historic Post Office in Towson with 8 boxes (from GoogleEarth).

Back in 2009, the County Council considered legislation to regulate these. Bill 13-09 would have established requirements for placement, maintenance, operation, and removal. The provisions were very reasonable, but the legislation was withdrawn before consideration, apparently because of an unsubstantiated concern that it might violate the 1st Amendment. It seems that they never think about the rights of the people.

The Bill would have established requirements for:

  • An annual permit for $50
  • Not to exceed 5 ft high
  • Maintained in "neat and clean" condition
  • Not on any public property except on sidewalk
  • Not within 6 ft of crosswalk or fire hydrant or 3 ft from any driveway
  • Must leave 4 ft passageway on sidewalk
  • No more than 3 at any single grouping
  • At least 200 ft between groupings

The legislation was generally written to apply to "newspapers" that were being sold, e.g., it referred to the coin mechanisms and method for refunds. It wasn't even clear that it would apply to the advertising "rag" sheets that are found in abundance at many places.

Current situation at Towson PO

Recent photos show 6 newspaper boxes in front of the PO. Five of these were empty on a recent visit.

So, for those that don't really have a print version to put in the box, or choose not to bother, the box just becomes an ad for their website, and clutters up the sidewalk.

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Updated 25 July 2017 by MAP