Newspaper Racks are a vital part of the streetscape of Menlo Park and provide an intrinsic value to its visitors and residents. Over the past few years, the City received complaints regarding the proliferation and deterioration of newspaper racks, especially in the downtown area. To address these concerns, the City Council approved a newsrack ordinance effective January 1, 2021. 

The ordinance will regulate newsracks by establishing a permit process, standards for maintenance and display, size and design standards, standards for placement and location, and an enforcement mechanism for abandoned or unmaintained newsracks throughout Menlo Park.


The table below shows newsrack permit and ordinance enforcement fees adopted by the City Council meeting. 

Fee description Fee amount
New permit $0*
Renew permit $0*
Appeal or protest $465
Newsrack impound Actual cost + 25 percent for billing and administration
Disposal Actual cost + 25 percent for billing and administration

*The City Council decided to waive new and renewal permit fees at the public hearing at the February 9, 2021, City Council meeting. These fees will be reevaluated in 2023.

Permit application

The online newsrack permit application is available (you may need to create an account to login then start a new application under the Public Works tab). Any newspaper rack installed, placed or maintained within the public right of way is required to have a newsrack permit. Before an application can be approved, applicants must do the following:

  • Review the newsrack ordinance 
  • Submit proof of insurance
  • Possess a city business license
  • Submit a site plan and/or location photos for each proposed newsrack
  • Pay all permit fees online

City staff will review the application and attached documents. A permit shall be issued within 30 days from the date of filing the application. If the application is properly completed and the type of newsrack and location proposed for each newsrack meets the standards set forth in the newsrack ordinance. A single permit shall be issued for each newsrack location applied for by the applicant. Each permit holder shall maintain an active business license throughout the term of the permit.

After a permit has been issued and the City is notified that the newsrack is ready for inspection. City staff will perform an inspection of the newsrack to verify compliance with all standards. If compliance is met, the staff will affix two stickers to the bottom right corner of the newsrack; (1) a permit sticker with unique permit number, (2) a sticker with identifying information containing the address and telephone number of the newsrack owner and of the distributor of the publication(s) contained therein. 

If a newsrack permit is denied, the City of Menlo Park will notify the applicant within 30 days from the date of filing the application, explaining the reason(s) for the denial of the permit. The applicant shall have 10 days to appeal the decision. For more information on the appeal process and the appeal requirements, please review the newsrack ordinance.

Please note: Each newsrack in the public right of way is required to have a permit. One permit application will need to be submitted for each newsrack. 

Maintenance, display, design and placement standards

Newsracks are required to meet the maintenance, display, design and placement standards set by the ordinance. The intent of these standards is to ensure reasonable measures are taken to maintain newsracks in neat, clean and safe condition. Newsracks no longer meeting these standards are subject to removal at the owner’s expense. 

Applicants are required to read and understand all newsrack standards. Please review the placement standards(PDF, 342KB)  and design standards(PDF, 316KB)


Is a permit required for newsracks on private property?

Newsracks on private property do not require a newsrack permit, but do require design review approval to ensure the newsrack conforms to the size, design and maintenance standards. Please contact the Planning Division at 650-330-6702.

Do I submit one application for each newsrack?

Yes, each newsrack in the public right of way is required to have a separate permit. One permit application is needed for each newsrack.

Contact us

Esther Jung
Associate Transportation Engineer