The San Mateo County city of San Carlos has a big problem, and it's coming from San Francisco. The issue? Unwanted copies of the SF Examiner that are being dumped in San Carlos driveways.
"I can make it so people can't call me at home and I can make it so people can't send me email, but there is no way to stop the San Francisco Examiner from throwing their newspaper on my lawn," San Carlos councilman Cameron Johnson announced, per the Daily News.
Johnson led the charge against the free daily at Monday's San Carlos City Council meeting, saying that he's heard from other constituents that have the same problem. By the end of the night. the council had called for legislation banning "unwanted newspapers and commercial solicitations," and had asked their city attorney to figure out what legal recourse they'd have if the ban was violated.
Those of you who've been here for a while might recall that then-San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi tried to enact a similar ban in SF back in 2008. The 2008 legislation proposed to hit publishers of free papers (papers with paid subscribers were exempt from the ban) with an initial $100 fine per residence for any papers delivered after the resident asked the publication to cease delivery. Subsequent nonconsensual deliveries would get the papers up to a $500 fine per individual offense.
The proposed ban inspired national media-minder headlines and a fiery editorial from then-SF-Weekly scribe Matt Smith, who argued that the proposed ban indicated that "journalism is under attack from lefties who promote public access to information."
Less fiery, perhaps, was the response of the publication you're reading right now, which, when confronted with cards urging the adoption of the ban, responded "oh yay, more scraps of paper to throw out," and told readers "look, if you want the Examiner to stop delivery to your door, then simply call this number: 866-733-7323. You can even talk to a live person who will tell you that deliver will be stopped to your place of residence in two to three business days."
But that's just the problem, Johnson, SFist commenters on that post, and SF resident Trishan Arul all say.
According to Johnson, "he called the Examiner requesting that it stop delivering papers to his house. After a few weeks however, the newspapers started showing up again," the Daily News reports.
Arul, who proposed an end to "delivery of unwanted newspapers & advertising in San Francisco" on Neighborland, says that "you can request to stop delivery but they randomly start it up again every few months. I've stopped it at least 8 times over the years." (An attempt to reach anyone in the circulation department of The San Francisco Media Company, which owns the Ex, was unsuccessful at publication time.)
Despite the Examiner's reported non-responsiveness, Mirkarimi's proposed ban, though revived a few times, ultimately languished. (A message left for Mirkarimi from SFist was not responded to at publication time.) Instead, San Franciscans at the unwanted Ex receiving end are told by the Department of Public Works to call the same number we gave you all those years ago, or to "go to the Examiner's Stop Delivery Page...or email [email protected]"
Will San Carlos's City Council have better luck with their ban than Mirkarimi did? One advantage they might have is a City Attorney who's also stung after trying to stop delivery of the paper.
"For about two or three weeks the paper was not delivered and then it resumed again," San Carlos City Attorney Greg Rubens said. "Obviously the self-policing is not working in some cases."
San Carlos, we'll be watching from the north, at least from North of the Panhandle, whose neighborhood association launched an online petition to "Tell San Francisco Examiner to Stop Littering Our Neighborhood." At publication time, the undated petition had 221 signatures and comments like "I've called the Examiner 3 times to be removed from the delivery service" and "Maybe we'll start dumping our garbage outside the Examiner office."