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Additional Information

Create a Thriving Business District


Newspaper boxes or racks are a common sight on Seattle ’s sidewalks. Boxes may cause physical and visual clutter; h owever, businesses can maintain a tidy appearance in their district by installing Modular Units.

Modular units are permanent racks that have a pedestal base bolted into the sidewalk and a tray attached to the pedestal that holds the publishers’ boxes. Once the modular units are in place, publishers MUST use them and freestanding boxes are not allowed within 120 feet. If all units are full, publishers who desire a unit on that block must purchase a second modular unit and install it. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) enforces and tracks all modular units and has the authority to decide location issues.

Freestanding newspaper boxes

Bicycle Rack
Modular newspaper boxes

Bicycle Rack
Frequently asked questions:

Who regulates freestanding newspaper boxes?
SDOT is responsible for monitoring newspaper boxes. General SDOT policy is to have publishers place boxes together on one corner. When that corner is “full,” SDOT requests that publishers place boxes on the far corner. If both corners of a block are full and more boxes are requested, they can be placed mid-block provided they allow 5 feet or more of unobstructed sidewalk space and do not hamper disabled access, bus stops or loading zones. The SMC states: Without a permit no newsstand shall be placed within 120 feet of any corner or other location with more 4 newsstands, or a modular unit newsstand with a capacity of at least 4 units, or within 120 feet of an attended newsstand.

Where can we buy a modular unit?

It is advisable to contact the Single Copy Distribution office of the Seattle Times and work with them for purchase and installation. Call Joy Johnston at 206-652-6837.

Who can we call to report problems with a box?

Call the publisher of the newspaper using the box. If you are not receiving a satisfactory response, call Annual Permits at 206-684-5267.


  • Increases the business district’s control over the placement of racks.
  • Improves the appearance of sidewalks. Newspaper boxes in the modular racks are generally single color, so sidewalks will appear neater.
  • May discourage publishers from overcrowding the district with freestanding boxes.


  • Requires maintenance by the publishers, who are responsible for boxes within modular units.
  • Requires coordination between the business districts, the publishers and SDOT for installation.




SEATTLE TIMES SINGLE COPY, Joy Johnston ----------------------- 206-652-6837