City-owned newsracks, introduced in Evanston seven years ago as a way to reduce streetscape clutter, would be removed under an ordinance scheduled for City Council introduction Monday.

Public Works Senior Project Manager Rajeev Dahal says, in a memo to the Council, that nine years ago 36 publications had placed 298 individual racks at 59 locations across the city.

The way things were: A pedestrian approaches a row of newsracks at the Central Street Metra viaduct in 2013.

In an effort to reduce the clutter, the city bought 26 multi-rack enclosures, each housing at least six individual news racks, and asked the publishers to use them.

Since then, as the news business has increasingly moved online, the number of permit applications to use the racks has been steadily decreasing, Dahal says, and public works staff has gradually removed underutilized racks, leaving just 15 around the city today.

Dahal says that since 2020, only six publications have applied for permits and “observations indicate that even they are not consistent in displaying or up keeping their publications in a timely manner.”

Dahal adds that the racks have attracted graffiti and trash in empty bins and have “overall unsightly conditions which requires Public Works staff to devote extra staff time and resources for upkeep and maintenance.”

So, he’s recommending that the remaining racks be removed and placed in storage, in case there’s a future surge in demand. In the meantime, publishers who want to have street racks would go back to the old system of applying for permits to install their own racks.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.