Yellow Pages Opt-in Legislation Passes in San Francisco!

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Yellow Pages Opt-in Legislation Passes in San Francisco!

On May 17th, San Francisco set a precedent for cities around the country to stand up to the Yellow Pages Association and prevent them from dumping unwanted Yellow Pages directories, sometimes more than once per year, on residents who don’t use them.

David Chiu, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, proposed the legislation to eliminate the burden on Waste Management and costs to city taxpayers of over a $1 million a year for the production, delivery and disposal of unwanted phonebooks. This legislation is a key part of the city’s goal to reach zero waste 2020.

Among the Sierra Club, Rain Forest Action Network, the Product Stewardship Institute, Californians Against Waste, Senior Action Network, numerous small businesses, the San Francisco Small Business Commission, homeowners, tenants, and landlords, The Green Chamber of Commerce was behind this all the way, and as Vice President of the Board, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in supporting its passage. I spoke at at a press conference with President Chiu, representing the business case for why we supported this measure in three main reasons:

  1. it would bring advertising rates more in line with actual exposure 
  2. the environmental and cost reduction benefits of this ordinance would be done without a negative impact on business’s ability to advertise, and 
  3. reduction in distribution would make the Yellow Pages a more targeted and thus attractive advertising channel for the appropriate consumer demographic.

I also appeared at a Land Use Committee Hearing on behalf of the Green Chamber and Dharma Merchant Services to speak on behalf of businesses in San Francisco who supported the measure. I also met with Chief City Economist Ted Egan on this issue, prior to his preparing an Economic Impact Report that concluded “Many environmental policies involve a trade-off between environmental benefits and economic costs. This proposed legislation, however, generates both environmental and economic benefits. It will reduce the city’s waste and recycling costs, as well as fostering a more efficient business advertising system in San Francisco”.

I hope your city can pass something similar!