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Politics

Some San Diegans Wonder, Can You Stop Phone Book Deliveries?

A phone book delivered to San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria, July 28, 2015.
A phone book delivered to San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria, July 28, 2015.

It’s that time of year when large thumps are heard on doorsteps across the region. The source of the noise is heavy phone books being delivered.

But some residents are trying to opt out.

A few years ago, Kensington resident Ben Katz was tired of his yearly ritual.

"I got the phone book on my doorstep, which immediately went in the recycling bin," Katz said. "I saw an article that said you can opt out. I went online, I filled out the form to opt out, and they stopped arriving."

Katz argues that in this day and age, paper books listing information are wasteful.

"They would go immediately from my doorstep to my recycling bin with a brief thought about whether I needed to tear off the plastic," he said.

Katz went to the website yellowpagesoptout.com. But other San Diego residents said they tried the website, and still the phone books keep coming.

The site is run by the trade groups Local Search Association and Association of Directory Publishers, which represent yellow pages publishers.

"We want to connect local customers to local businesses whether it is through directories in print, on the Internet or on a mobile app," they write on their website. "While many people still rely on print directories to make local purchase decisions, Yellow Pages publishers know that there is no point of delivering a print directory to someone who does not want one."

San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria has complained repeatedly on social media about his phone book deliveries.

"How is this still a thing?" Gloria wrote. "The only number I'd look up in this dinosaur is the one to stop getting them delivered to my doorstep."

Other cities, including San Francisco and Seattle, have changed laws to make it so you opt in for a phone book instead of opting out. But Seattle was sued for its law change by Local Search Association, who argued preventing delivery of phone books violated the First Amendment. The city ended up losing the suit and paid $500,000 to phone book publishers.