yellowpages.pngThe San Francisco Board of Supervisors gave initial approval today to legislation that will restrict the distribution of Yellow Pages phone books in the city.

The ordinance, proposed by Board President David Chiu, will create a three-year pilot program in which distributors of the Yellow Pages would have to ask residents and businesses if they would like a copy of the phone books before leaving them on doorsteps.

The program will not be enacted until May 2012 to give the phone book industry time to adjust to the new law.

The board voted 10-1 in favor of the proposal, with Supervisor Sean Elsbernd giving the lone dissenting vote.

Chiu said the legislation will reduce blight caused by the unwanted phone books piling up on doorsteps and will reduce the city’s costs to recycle them.

A report issued Monday by Ted Egan, the city’s chief economist, found that the proposal will create 115 jobs and will help San Francisco’s economy grow by $12.6 million annually.

However, Elsbernd said outside of board chambers after the vote that he questioned the legality of the ordinance, and referred to another recent law passed last June by the board to require cellphone manufacturers to post information about radiation emitted from the phones.

That law was recently shelved due to concerns about its legality, he said.

“This Board of Supervisors doesn’t have the best track record” when it comes to the First Amendment rights of businesses, Elsbernd said.

Pete Hillan, a spokesman for the Yellow Pages Association, said after the vote that the industry group indeed plans on fighting the law in court in the coming months.

Peter Pusateri of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1269, the union whose members distribute the phone books, disagreed with the economic report saying jobs could be gained from the legislation.

“The real tragedy is the city is guessing that the information they have is real and correct,” Pusateri said.

“I’m looking at downsizing 100 people” who will not have jobs distributing the books if the law goes into effect, he said.

The board will consider the proposal again for final approval at next week’s meeting.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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