Board delays Yellow Pages vote

Pub date March 30, 2011
WriterCarly Nairn
SectionPolitics Blog

In an attempt to assuage big business interests, the Board of Supervisors decided yesterday (Tues/29) to delay the vote on an ordinance regulating the Yellow Pages, a piece of legislation that would create a three-year pilot program to rid the city of unsolicited phone books. A vote on the legislation is set for May 10.

The ordinance by Board President David Chiu passed the Land Use Committee on March 22. In attendance was a large opposition including the Yellow Pages Association, representatives of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and AT&T Advertising Solutions to stress the importance of the directory to small businesses and local jobs.

Although it appears the votes are there to pass it, supervisors including progressive David Campos and business-friendly Sean Elsbernd pushed for the delay so the city’s chief economist could undertake an analysis to understand how the “ban” would affect city businesses and to allow the public to continue to voice its opinions on the issue.

According to a previous Guardian article on the ordinance, many local businesses have chosen to advertise elsewhere, and many residents, including populations generally seen to use the Yellow Pages such as the elderly and non-English speakers, will still be able to easily obtain phone books if need be.

Alexia Marcous, Vice President of the Green Chamber of Commerce and a strong advocate in favor of the ordinance, said she was disappointed that the board chose to delay the vote.

“It’s politically motivated,” she told the Guardian. “Instead of doing what’s best for the city, they are stalling.”

While Marcous noted that it’s always prudent to obtain more information, it was unnecessary for the public to “provide further rebuttal” on the ordinance that she believes already has overwhelming support. Marcous states that some of the consequences of delaying the vote include the costs the city incurs for “dealing with the blight and litter and diverting the vital funds from more important issues.”

If the board decides to authorize the ordinance, Marcous sees San Francisco as a success story for other cities to emulate.

“It shows we are willing to do something about the egregious distribution practices that are only helping the Yellow Pages,” she said.

YPA Vice President of Public Policy and Sustainability Amy Healy posted on the Yellow Pages blog last week, before the vote was made, that the Yellow Pages Coalition “will be working diligently over the next week to influence the other members of the Board of Supervisors.”