San Francisco Limits Phone Directory Distribution

City says residents and offices must opt in for printed directories.


Legislation that would prohibit the distribution of telephone directories has been passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors by a vote of nine to one.

The ordinance, created with input from the San Francisco Department of the Environment and recycling contractor Recology, would create a three-year pilot program to restrict phone directory distributors from dropping unsolicited phone books on the doorsteps of residents who have not requested or approved of the delivery.

The measure does not restrict distributors from delivering directories to customers who are at home and physically accept delivery or who give prior approval by phone, by mail or by a note left on the door (similar to a package delivery confirmation). The effective date of the legislation was set as May 1, 2012 to give the directory industry time to implement it.

A report commissioned by the city’s Board of Supervisors claims the ordinance will have a positive impact on the local economy and estimates that 115 jobs will be created by the new law.

“The Board of Supervisors today overwhelmingly demonstrated that it prioritizes environmental stewardship, consumer choice, and responsible business practices,” says sponsored by Board of Supervisors president David Chiu.

“With this first-in-the-nation ordinance, the city has taken a unique approach to limit the delivery of phone books to only residences and businesses that wish to receive them,” says Scott Cassel, executive director of the Product Stewardship Institute, Boston.