The red metal box that gave you this copy of SFR may seem innocuous enough, but it and hundreds like it are coming under fire for occupying city sidewalks.
Santa Fe City Councilor Chris Calvert is drafting an amendment to the city ordinance dealing with sidewalk obstruction and may introduce it as soon as July 27. While the current ordinance exempts newspaper boxes from restrictions related to use of public sidewalks, the proposed changes would require boxes to leave 60 inches of open sidewalk and prohibit affixing boxes to poles.
Calvert tells SFR that the boxes are sometimes so close to the curb that they inhibit use of disabled parking spots and unloading zones on the Plaza. The practice of chaining the boxes to poles is out of keeping with the "historic" appearance of downtown, he says.
SFR Publisher Andy Dudzik says he's concerned the boxes could be stolen, and feels the requirement for 60 inches of clear sidewalk is not realistic in Santa Fe, where sidewalks are narrow.
"This is exactly the wrong time to be messing with businesses that interact with so many other businesses in Santa Fe," SFR Circulations Manager Andy Bramble says. "Anything that disrupts our distribution won't just affect us—it's going to affect all of our advertisers; it's going to affect a lot of businesses."
City staff will meet with Dudzik and publishers of other local newspapers to try to reach a compromise, Calvert says.