Posts Tagged ‘ordinance’

City of San Francisco Repeals Discriminatory Phone Book Ordinance

Friday, August 9, 2013

We are pleased that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has passed, and the Mayor has signed, an ordinance to repeal the City’s discriminatory phone book ordinance, which effectively banned the distribution of Yellow Pages in San Francisco. The repeal is welcome news for residents who find value in free and easy access to community information, emergency information, and local business listings provided in print Yellow Pages. It is also a win for local businesses that depend on Yellow Pages advertising to drive new customers into their doors.

We believe it doesn’t make sense to deliver a directory to someone who doesn’t want one. Our national consumer choice program, rather than government mandates, is the best approach to ensure consumers can control the delivery of Yellow Pages directories to their homes. Our national opt-out website at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com has been available since 2011 at no cost to taxpayers and without the use of government resources. We will also continue to promote our significant efforts to reduce paper use, to operate sustainably and to support recycling.

LSA Reaches Settlement with City of Seattle Over Phone Book Ordinance

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I’m pleased to share that we recently reached an agreement with the City of Seattle to end litigation resulting from its discriminatory phone book ordinance. As we shared last October, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals gave a unanimous ruling in favor of free speech that protects all media, including Yellow Pages, from restrictions that hurt local businesses and consumers and cost taxpayer dollars. Now Yellow Pages companies can continue to offer their services without the challenges put in place by the City’s ordinance.

As an industry, we know it doesn’t make sense to deliver a directory to someone who doesn’t want one. But we believe our industry’s consumer choice program, rather than local government-led initiatives, is the best approach to ensure consumers control the delivery of Yellow Pages directories to their homes and businesses. Consumers in Seattle and nationwide can visit www.YellowPagesOptOut.com to limit or stop delivery of directories. The straightforward, easy-to-use website is free, funded by Yellow Pages publishers rather than taxpayer dollars.

We look forward to working with the City of Seattle to increase visibility of www.YellowPagesOptOut.com among its residents and will honor opt-out requests previously submitted to the City’s former opt-out website.

We will also continue to help Seattle’s local businesses navigate the increasingly complex local media marketplace to give them their best possible return on investment and to provide residents with the ability to find those businesses wherever they search.

Ninth Circuit Denies City of Seattle’s Latest Motion, Finalizing Free Speech Protection for all Media

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Last week, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals once again ruled in favor of First Amendment protection in our case against the City of Seattle over its discriminatory phone book law. In a ruling filed on January 3, the Ninth Circuit denied the City of Seattle’s motion to revisit its earlier decision that directories, like all media, are fully protected speech under the Constitution. In doing so, the Court’s ruling is final and it effectively struck down Seattle’s discriminatory phone book law.

As you may recall, in October 2012, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit unanimously ruled print Yellow Pages directories are fully protected speech and the City of Seattle’s discriminatory phone book ordinance was unconstitutional. However, in November 2012, the City of Seattle filed its petition requesting a full Ninth Circuit panel review of the decision.

The Ninth Circuit’s ruling is binding in all courts within the Ninth District, including San Francisco, unless Seattle files an appeal that is accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court and wins at that level. We are optimistic San Francisco’s even more restrictive Yellow Pages ordinance will be overturned.

The Ninth Circuit’s decision represents a decisive victory that protects all media from restrictions that hurt local businesses and consumers and unnecessarily cost taxpayers. The ruling is good news for residents who find value in free and easy access to community information, emergency information, and local business listings in print Yellow Pages. It is also a win for local businesses that depend on Yellow Pages advertising to attract new customers.

Our national consumer choice program, rather than government mandates, is the best approach to ensure consumers can control the delivery of Yellow Pages directories to their homes. We believe it doesn’t make sense to deliver a directory to someone who doesn’t want one. Our national opt-out website at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com has been available since 2011 at no cost to taxpayers and without the use of government resources.

City of San Francisco ‘Puzzled’ Over Motion Filing

Friday, September 2, 2011

I read with interest a San Francisco city spokesperson’s comments about our recent filing for a preliminary injunction against the city’s Yellow Pages ordinance.  The city spokesperson claimed to be “puzzled” why we would seek emergency relief from the court since the ordinance doesn’t go into effect for another nine months.

We don’t find it surprising that the city would be puzzled by our filing because, since the introduction of this legislation, no one at City Hall has taken time to understand how our industry  works and the services we offer the community.  In our view, the city spokesperson’s comments only further demonstrate the city’s lack of knowledge about our business and the drastic impact of the ordinance.

Here are some fundamental reasons why filing now is the only way to ensure that Yellow Pages directories can be delivered to consumers next year:

  • The San Francisco District Court is a very busy court. We’ve been advised by the court that a hearing on our motion won’t be held until January 12, 2012.  But the ordinance is already having a strong and negative impact on our industry, even though it does not take effect until next May.
  • Small business owners – who our industry relies on to support the publication of directories – have to make decisions today on whether to advertise in Yellow Pages directories coming out next year. This new uncertainty of whether there will be a directory, and how and to whom it will be distributed, is confusing local businesses and limiting their commitment to advertising in the next directory.
  • Publishers have to make decisions now on potential alternate distribution methods – or whether to publish at all. The impact of high-cost distribution and the potential for a shrunken advertising base may cause some publishers to leave the San Francisco market altogether, leaving advertisers and consumers without a vital platform to find one another.
  • Already, at least two Yellow Pages salespersons have quit their jobs because of uncertainties over whether the industry can survive in San Francisco. In fact, one former employee took a lower paying job – something unheard of in today’s tough economy – to make sure he didn’t end up unemployed.

We believe we have a strong case for the U.S. District Court – one that has real merit and immediate consequences. We look forward to what we hope will be a quick and favorable decision.

Publishers File Motion for Preliminary Injunction to Stop San Francisco Yellow Pages Ordinance

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Earlier today, we filed a motion for preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court to halt the implementation of the City of San Francisco’s destructive Yellow Pages law until we reach final resolution of the lawsuit we filed against the city in June.

We made the decision to move forward with this motion after considering the real, negative impact of the city’s ordinance, which would make it against the law to deliver Yellow Pages to homes or businesses without advance permission:

  • The First Amendment does not permit the city to arbitrarily restrict distribution of Yellow Pages out of a misguided belief that directories are less valuable than other publications. We don’t think the government has a place in choosing which communications can be delivered and which cannot. When put in context, the Environmental Protection Agency says that phone directories make up less than one half of one percent of municipal waste – much less than other paper-based media.
  • Thousands of San Francisco residents will be deprived of a valuable resource that links them to vital community services. This ordinance disenfranchises the nearly 30% of San Franciscans who can’t afford Internet  access and smartphones – including lower income residents, seniors and international communities – as well as those who simply prefer print directories to find local civic and business information.
  • Thousands of local businesses will be hurt by virtually eliminating one of their most effective means of advertising, forcing them to pay more for less effective results and fewer advertising options at the whim of local lawmakers.
  • Research from Burke, a premier independent research and consulting firm, shows that 71 percent of San Francisco residents used Yellow Pages directories in the past year to locate local civic and business information.

Although the ordinance’s delivery restrictions do not take effect until May 2012, publishers are suffering economic consequences now. Not only must they plan to invest in expensive methods to solicit opt-ins, but the uncertainty over the Yellow Pages circulation is deterring advertisers.

A preliminary injunction is in the public interest, not only because our First Amendment rights are at stake, but because the ordinance harms the wider community – both the local businesses that rely on sales generated by Yellow Pages ads, and the thousands of San Francisco residents who find the Yellow Pages more efficient than searching the Internet, or who lack Internet access.

Yellow Pages publishers don’t want to deliver directories to people who don’t want them.  We have stated this repeatedly to legislators, the media and consumers.  And we are backing up that statement with our opt-out site and other distribution initiatives.

We believe the decision to use the Yellow Pages, a newspaper, the Internet, or any other media should be up to the citizens of San Francisco – not the judgment of politicians.  Our motion today demonstrates our commitment to continuing to deliver our directories to San Francisco residents who use and value it.

As responsible stewards of the environment, we provided consumers nationwide with a single, easy-to- use site to stop or limit directory delivery to their homes at www.yellowpagesoptout.com.  Our association continues to work on the behalf of our members to ensure that our message is being heard in municipalities across the country.

To keep up with this and other issues, sign up for our RSS feed and find us on Facebook page and @LocalSearchAssn Twitter channel for updates.

Courthouse News: ‘Court Takes a Shine to Yellow Pages Publishers’

Friday, July 22, 2011

As we’ve discussed on the blog, our industry is suing the City of Seattle over its recently-passed ordinance governing phone book distribution. Just last week, our lawyers argued in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals about why we believe the Seattle ordinance is flawed.

Courthouse News posted a comprehensive recap of the oral argument that’s worth reading. According to the article, the three-judge appellate panel asked some tough questions about the ordinance.

Click here to read the full recap.

Publishers File Suit in San Francisco to Challenge Yellow Pages Ordinance

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Yesterday, we made the difficult decision to file suit against the City and County of San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Edwin Lee asking the U.S. District Court to overturn the city’s controversial new Yellow Pages ordinance, which effectively bans the distribution of Yellow Pages.

We are disappointed that we are left with no other alternative. The city’s rationale for restricting Yellow Pages is unconstitutional, in that it leaves no discernible limits to the government’s power to suppress the free distribution of information. By singling out Yellow Pages – while other sources produce 99 percent of paper waste – the ordinance is arbitrary and irrational.

Additionally, we believe the ordinance disenfranchises residents without Internet access – including lower income, seniors and ethnic communities – and those that simply prefer print directories to find vital local civic and business information.

This is not an action we take lightly. For years, we have worked to improve the San Francisco community by providing residents with important local civic and business information. We are disappointed that we now need to sue the city in order to provide our services to its residents and local businesses. That said, we believe there are limits to any city’s ability to control how we distribute community information, whether it is print or online.

Our industry firmly believes in consumer choice, and has developed a single, easy-to-use site to stop or limit delivery of directories at www.yellowpagesoptout.com.

Read our press release for more information on why we are moving forward with this suit in San Francisco.