San Francisco has become the first major city to ban the delivery of Yellow Pages directories except to those who say they want them.
The law is meant to cut down on waste and reduce the cost of recycling the books. It’s estimated that about 1.8 million Yellow Pages directories are distributed throughout The City every year.
“This legislation will help to preserve our environment, fight neighborhood blight and help our economy by eliminating the mass overdistribution of Yellow Pages,” said Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who introduced the bill.
But the historic moment could be short-lived. The Yellow Pages industry has called the restriction illegal and is expected to sue over the law or attempt to negotiate a compromise before the Board of Supervisors takes a second and final vote next week.
“There are First Amendment concerns with the government limiting and banning free speech,” said Amy Healy, vice president of public policy and sustainability of a trade group representing the industry.
The legislation was adopted Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors in a 10-1 vote. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who opposed the legislation, said he thought the law was illegal and he was also concerned about its impact on small businesses.
Supervisors supporting the legislation said it made sense to reduce the number of books. Supervisor David Campos said the bill “from an environmental perspective makes a lot of sense.” And Supervisor Scott Wiener said, “This is an industry that does need to transform itself. And this is a step in that direction.”
If ultimately approved, the legislation would go into effect in May 2012. As proposed, it is a three-year pilot program. Yellow Pages would only be delivered to those who request the books.