Fine proposed for Yellow Pages unwanted deliveries

February 1, 2011 7:25:53 PM PST
The President of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors is making it his mission to clean up blight in the city. David Chiu says the No. 1 complaint he hears from constituents is about litter on the streets, and he has two pieces of legislation that tackle two parts of the issues.

He is proposing that the Distributors of the Yellow Pages get permission before dropping those phone books on doorsteps. Chiu says it is costing the city more than $1 million a year to recycle unwanted Yellow Pages. He says 1.5 million of them are distributed in San Francisco each year.

If you stacked them end to end, Chiu estimates they would be taller than 300 Transamerica Pyramids. According to Chiu, the books create nearly seven million pounds of waste in the city every year. Under Chiu's proposal Yellow Page distributors would have to ask consumers via telephone, internet, or in person, if they want the directory.

Amy Healy is a Vice-President with the company. She says the proposal is an unconstitutional assault against free speech and the company my sue.

Barbara Barrish's bail bonds company advertises in the Yellow Pages. She believes that if the phone book isn't in every home, it could impact her business.

"Who really wants to call and ask for it? Not many people," she said.

Chiu's other proposal would force restaurants, house cleaners and others who post flyers on homes, to make sure they are securely fastened so they don't blow away and litter the landscape. Residents who don't like the handbills can post a sign saying "No Handbills" and if vendors violate the law, there would be fines.

"Under this measure, you could opt out of receiving flyers like this by posting a large no handbills sign. Violators would be fined," said.

Some critics say these proposed crackdowns are another example of San Francisco as a nanny state, but Chiu says litter is the number one complaint of constituents like Tina Moylan of the Russian Hill Neighborhood Association.

"We celebrate our city and the elimination of more paper lining our gutters, streets and sidewalks," she said.