Protesters leave phone books at AT&T building

March 23, 2011 1:13:35 PM PDT
Protesters dropped off a stack of 1,500 Yellow Pages in front of an AT&T building in San Francisco Wednesday morning to highlight what organizers said is the wasteful distribution of the phone books by the company.

Wednesday's demonstration by the group PhonebookFree SF, in which protesters piled up the books in a stack, comes as the San Francisco Board of Supervisors considers legislation that would restrict the distribution of the Yellow Pages.

AT&T is the primary distributor of the Yellow Pages in San Francisco.

Lloyd Nimetz, one of the organizers of the protest, said, "We're not against phone books. All we want is the choice."

Board President David Chiu has estimated that there are more than 1.6 million phone books dropped off in San Francisco each year - two for every resident.

Chiu introduced legislation that would establish a three-year pilot program requiring distributors of the Yellow Pages to ask residents and businesses if they would like a copy of the phone books before leaving one on doorsteps.

At a board committee meeting on Monday, Yellow Pages Association President Neg Norton called the proposal "misguided" and said it would be devastating to small businesses that depend primarily on the phone books for their advertising.

Norton said the Yellow Pages launched a campaign to allow people to opt out of receiving the books by visiting www.yellowpagesoptout.com.

The board could vote on Chiu's proposal at its meeting next Tuesday.

Nimetz said all 1,500 phone books used in this morning's protest were given to the group by residents who did not want them.

The books were stacked in front of an AT&T corporate building on Folsom Street in the city's South of Market building.

However, the protesters did not have a permit to drop off the phone books, and were ordered by police to move the books from the sidewalk or be cited or arrested.

The protesters had to load the books back onto the U-Haul truck that had brought them to the building this morning. They planned to take the books to a recycling facility.

An AT&T spokesman declined to comment about the protest.

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