Tag Archives: San Francisco Board of Supervisors

Are we surprised San Francisco Board of Supervisors Passes Jobs-Killing Ban on Yellow Pages??

It’s official – BIA/Kelsey reports that the mayor of San Francisco has signed the jobs-killing, opt-in legislation which uniquely targeted print Yellow Pages products.  Ok, time for the industry to spring into action.

Step 1 – get the lawyers working and let’s see a bunch of lawsuits that go after
this thing.  As Local Search Association (formerly Yellow Pages Association) President Neg Norton, said in a press release “From day one, we committed to addressing the city’s waste reduction goals, but neither the Supervisors nor the Mayor would let us be part of the process.  What’s most frustrating is that, behind closed doors, many in the city government admit that the arguments and statistics used to support this ban were questionable at best, but for political reasons, did not feel they could oppose it. This leaves us little choice but to pursue legal remedies to this harmful ordinance.”  City of San Francisco – see you in court.

Step 2 – join a boycott of the city.  In this recent post about the decision coming out of San Francisco, I called for a boycott of the city of San Francisco and here’s why:

In the effort to fight this an interesting coalition formed which included groups such as Valley Yellow Pages, AT&T, Seccion Amarilla, the IBEW labor union, The Utility Reform Network, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, ADP association, Chinese Yellow Pages, Rainbow Pages, and other local consumer advocate and business groups. All of them had the same message – IF YOU PASS THIS LAW IT WILL COST JOBS AND HURT SMALL BUSINESSES, HINDERING THEIR EFFORTS TO COST EFFECTIVELY PROMOTE THEIR BUSINESSES. Can all of these groups be wrong?? Not likely.

So other than lawsuits (which are unavoidable), what else can the industry do?? I suggest an all-out boycott of the city of San Francisco. In effect let’s opt-out of city. That means no conventions there (LSA, Kelsey Group, and ADP can you hear us), no personal travel there, no doing business with anyone in the city area, etc. – and then letting the 10 city Board of Supervisors who voted for this legislation know we’re not coming to their city to spend money.

The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau says that in 2010, San Francisco hosted 15.9 million visitors who spent $8.3 billion during their stay – that’s more than $22.8 million a day. That makes tourism one of our most important industries for the city. As a result, visitor dollars generated over $485 million in taxes and fees that support The City’s “…general budget, health and safety, arts and cultural organizations, recreational facilities and low-income housing.” This also means that visitor dollars supported about 67,122 jobs in the hospitality and tourism industries, or put another way, about $1.88 billion in local payroll (excluding tips).

An industry wide boycott including family and friends should put a little dent in all that don’t you think??

Ironic that just this week  I received this email from a young entrepreneurial
gentleman in San Francisco:

It’s with great enthusiasm (hi-fives) and passion that I am launching Daily Secret, San Francisco – your daily dose of inside scoop secret stuff happening in the awesome city of San Francisco. You are receiving this first secret because I believe you have a love of SF whether you live here or just visit on occasion.

Here is what I sent him back:

Not interested thank you.  Please remove my name from your distribution list immediately .

Given that the city politicians have decided to pass job killing legislation requiring opt-in print Yellow Pages, while not addressing any of the other 99.7% of the other products that are in the typical  municipal waste stream, I and other industry professionals will be boycotting the city and anything to do with it.
That means no conventions there, no meetings there, and no personal travel to
the city.   If the city wants to allow one small group to drive its agenda for purely political reasons, fine.  If that’s what you and the other residents want, ok.  But it also means I don’t have any use for your  city either.…

Now normally one would assume that this is just unusual behavior
by the city and some rouge local government officails.  But maybe not.  I’ve had several people suggest to me that this was already a city that appears to be located somewhere on the other side of the twilight zone.  How can  I say that?
Just check this current news out:

Tales of the Red Tape #11: Circumcising Principle in San Francisco
Heritage.org (blog)

From the city that has already banned military recruiting, plastic bags, cat
declawing, new billboards, ATM fees, citywide phone book delivery,
Styrofoam takeout boxes, officials’ travel to Arizona, and fast-food toys,
there now comes a ballot measure to outlaw the circumcision of minors. Should the initiative prevail in November, the subject snip would become a crime punishable by a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.

Circumcision?  Seriously?  Is this the most important the Board of Supervisors needs to worry about??

Let’s just boycott the whole scene and let them know it’s a two way street here.  We will get you additional information on how to contact the council and Mayor in a follow-up comment.

In the interim, are you with me??

A Win In Round 1 in San Francisco

Efforts by a wide coalition of publishers, small business owners, and even labor unions representing directory employees have succeeded in getting the San Francisco board of supervisors to delay a vote on efforts to institute an opt-in ordinance for Yellow Pages. 

The opt-in ordinance has been championed by Board of Supervisors president David Chiu, who has already announced plans to run for mayor along with his new found interest in environmental issues (where have you been Joe DiMaggio?).  We have consistently been suspicious of local politicians like Chiu who have found that attacking phone book distribution can be an easy way to get your pro-environment ticket punched. As a result the Yellow Pages industry had to organize the coalition, many of whom have competing interests, to press Board members to oppose the bill since:

  • Publisher and Association opt-out options are available for San Francisco residents. 
  • It will cost jobs in a state where unemployment has been running well above the already levels nationwide.
  • Would hurt small businesses who know that print Yellow Pages are an effective advertising mechanisms with high ROI’s.

Now Board members will wait for a study from the city economist to determine if the objections about job loss and hardship it will cause for small businesses are valid. The report is due May 10th. Clearly efforts by the coalition got the Board’s attention as comments from some of the Board members about jobs at risk came up.

In an email this morning, Yellow Pages Association President Neg Norton indicated that the industry is continuing to work to get small businesses more involved in the effort:

“We’ve begun a merchant outreach program this week in the key districts that will produce letters, videos and petitions as well as a phone bank program where concerned citizens can be patched through to their supervisor to express their opinions. We’ll also begin to gather data on the issues they’re likely to raise with us. It’s been an amazing effort by the coalition we’ve established and we’re making progress.”

While the war is far from over, the industry has clearly won the first battle.  The industry needs to continue to rally behind the associations to combat this effort and send a message to local officials like Chiu that there are other areas their environmental efforts could be better focused than phone books to gain an even bigger impact and cost reduction without hurting small businesses and jobs. 

Keep fighting the fight…