Board of Supervisors President David Chiu

Yellow Pages victory in Seattle might threaten San Francisco’s ban

A ban on distributing Yellow Pages throughout Seattle was struck down Monday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in The City, under First Amendment protections. The ruling could affect San Francisco’s own ordinance.

A similar ban was approved here in 2011, but the legislation has not been enforced pending the outcome of the Seattle ban, according to the City Attorney’s Office.

“We are reviewing the ruling and conferring with our clients,” said Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for the office.

According to the ruling issued Monday, Seattle’s ban — which taxed the publishing industry in order to help create and promote a program to opt out of receiving the books — infringes on the publishing industry’s First Amendment protection rights.

“Although portions of the directories are obviously commercial in nature, the books contain more than that, and we conclude that the directories are entitled to the full protection of the First Amendment,” the ruling said. “As a result, when we evaluate the Ordinance under strict scrutiny, it does not survive.”

Neg Norton, president of Local Search Associates, said the decision is great news.

“We’re being singled out by government for unfair treatment versus all other media competing in the market,” he said. “We very much support consumer choice, giving consumers an opt-out option, but the patchwork of different regulations in different markets would be problematic.”

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who authored the San Francisco ban, had a different take, calling the ruling a “misreading of First Amendment rights.”

The ruling “protects corporate polluters that litter our San Francisco doorsteps with 1.6 million unwanted Yellow Pages books every year,” Chiu said. “This distinction is akin to the Citizens United ruling that treats free speech rights and corporate super PACs to be the same as real people.”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsDavid ChiuLocalSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Police release an image a cracked windshield on a Prius that Cesar Vargas allegedly tried to carjack. Vargas, who was shot by police a short time later, can be seen in videos jumping on the windshield and pushing a Muni passenger who disembarked from a bus. (Courtesy SFPD
SFPD releases videos of deadly police shooting

Cesar Vargas killed after reports of carjacking with knife

New legislation would make sure supportive housing tenants don’t pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent.. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner))
Supportive housing tenants could get more help paying the rent

Supportive housing tenants struggling to pay rent could soon see their payments… Continue reading

Organizers of the San Francisco International Arts Festival had planned to use parts of Fort Mason including the Parade Ground, Eucalyptus Grove and Black Point Battery to host performances by about a dozen Bay Area arts groups. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Arts festival sues city over permit denial

Organizer says outdoor performances should be treated like demonstrations, religious gatherings

An oversight body for San Francisco’s mental health programs may be restructured after questions were raised about its management and lack of effectiveness. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Behavioral health oversight body looks for new start — and staff — after mismanagement

Members of an oversight body for San Francisco’s behavioral health programs said… Continue reading

The City requires the recycling or reuse of debris material removed from a construction project site. <ins>(Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
<ins></ins>
Permits proposed for haulers of construction debris to achieve zero-waste

San Francisco plans to tighten regulations on the disposal of construction and… Continue reading

Most Read