City Takes Another Look at Yellow Pages Ban

Tuesday, May 10, 2011  |  Updated 10:29 AM PDT
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City Takes Another Look at Yellow Pages Ban

flickr.com/edkohler

San Francisco is looking at banning Yellow Pages in the City.

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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will again consider legislation that would reduce the number of Yellow Pages phone books delivered in the City.

The ordinance, proposed in February by board president David Chiu, would create a three-year pilot program in which distributors of the Yellow Pages would have to ask businesses and residents if they would like a copy of the phone books before leaving them on doorsteps.

The city's Office of Economic Analysis did not initially conduct a review of the proposal because officials did not think the economic impact was significant enough to require it.

But opponents of the legislation argued that it could lead to economic hardship for small businesses that advertise in the phone books and job losses for many of the people who deliver the books, so the board decided on March 29 to delay a vote for six weeks until the economic review could be conducted.

Supervisors expect to get the report from the economic analysis office later today and could vote on the legislation at Tuesday's board meeting.

According to Chiu's office, about 1.6 million phone books are delivered in San Francisco each year, and disposal of the unused books costs taxpayers more than $1 million annually.

Chiu has argued that the majority of city residents do not use the Yellow Pages, since the information in them is readily available online, and that its number of users will continue to drop as more people gain access to the Internet via computers and smartphones.

The pilot program, which would not take effect until May 2012, would require an extensive outreach campaign to elderly, disabled, low-income and non-English-speaking communities so they would know they can still get the phone books for free.

The Yellow Pages Association, which opposes the proposal, has already launched a campaign to allow people to opt out of receiving the books by visiting www.yellowpagesoptout.com, but Chiu said only about a small percentage of people take advantage of it.
 

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