Yesterday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the opt-in ordinance that the Yellow Pages industry had vigorously opposed. Immediately following the vote, the Local Search Association (formerly the Yellow Pages Association) called on San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee to veto the ordinance. The ordinance passed 10-1 but formal passage must wait until a routine “second reading” next week, which is likely to be a rubber stamp.
The ordinance is the first opt-in (where consumers must proactively choose to receive a print directory) measure to pass in the United States. While the industry sees opt-out (where consumers can choose not to receive a book) as a serious challenge, it has viewed opt-in as a lethal threat. Opt-in could decimate reach, increase costs and drive secondary operators out of business.
Proponents argue that in an era of declining usage, ubiquitous distribution is incredibly wasteful. if someone wants a book, no one is stopping him or her from requesting one under an opt-in plan.
The San Francisco ordinance is positioned as a “three-year pilot program” that will commence in 2012. The ordinance was proposed based on environmental concerns as well as concerns over the cost of disposing of unwanted phone books.