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Free Newspaper Nuisance/Litter

Original post made by Prescott Lee on Jun 26, 2008

I have been a Menlo Park resident and home owner since 1993. Over the last 15 years, I have endured the recurring problem getting newspaper publishers (like the Independent, and the Examiner) to permanently stop littering my driveway with their "free" newspapers. I have spoken with several of my neighbors, and they are experiencing the same frustrations. To many, these newspapers are...

* A nuisance to residents and essentially litter
* A clear indication to "others" that no one is
home when you are on vacation
* A waste of paper
* Misleading to local businesses because their circulation
numbers do not represent true readership

I know there is a Menlo Park ordinance (8.36.020 Distributing on private premises) that requires these publishers to cease delivery upon receiving written notice. I have sent several letters but to no avail.

The current ordinance puts the burden on Menlo Park residents to "Opt Out". The ordinance should be changed to place the burden on the newspaper publishers; i.e. an "Opt In" system where it's a violation to leave free newspapers on someone's property without first receiving the property owner's written permission.

Comments (8)

Posted by Morris Brown, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 26, 2008 at 9:55 am

I must say, I think Mr. Lee makes a good case for our City Council to take action on this issue. We are plagued with the same problem he presents, and perhaps the "opt in" system would really be the way to get something done about this situation.

I urge the City Council to get the staff working to see is some cure can be implemented.


Posted by Ebara, a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jun 27, 2008 at 10:18 am

The unwanted Independent and free Peninsula Examiner newspapers are a nuisance and an environmental waste. In San Francisco, the problem is so bad that Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi proposed an ordinance with fines for publishers who ignore requests to cease delivery.

Here on my peninsula, my neighbors and I have had success in getting the "free" Examiner to stop: Call the Examiner Peninsula circulation number at 866-733-7323 and tell them to stop delivery. When this doesn't work, call back and ask to talk to a supervisor. This usually works.

(I also document my calls in writing to The Examiner Peninsula, 450 Mission St., Fifth Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105, just so I have evidence if I need to contact the Better Business Bureau, the Certified Audit of Circulations, or Menlo Park for violation of the ordinance. But in our experience, just writing a letter does not work - You have to call the Examiner).

I don't know anything about the ordinance, but I hope there is a fine for violators. Fining the Examiner will help out the town's budget. Getting the city council to look into it is a good idea.


Posted by Tom, a resident of another community
on Jun 27, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Wow, there is definitely a ME in Menlo Park--in fact, maybe thats all there is. I read the article about Angelique Shepherd, owner of Dance Works who is losing her business because, through absolutely no fault of hers, the location of her dance studio isn't zoned properly for such a use--even though it was a dance studio when she bought it. And the reason, her business has been too successful(obviously filling a need), causing a parking problem for neighbors. The sad truth is though, no one in this forum said a word-no comments about the article at all. However, have someone say "Gee, I keep having to pick up a newspaper in my driveway that I don't want to read", and out come the endorsements for this to become an issue for the City Council to address!!-like they don't have important stuff to do. My compliments to the City Staff who are trying to help Angelique find a new location, and I wish her all the best--for those of you who have to pick up a newspaper once a week-too bad.


Posted by Michiko, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 28, 2008 at 8:50 am

Hi. Lets keep "Town Square a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion" - The dance studio, which many care about, can be addressed on another thread.
Menlo Park residents are proactive about caring for their community, which is great. The junk Examiner and Independents come more than once a week, so over 15 years that is thousands of plastic-wrapped papers just for one household. Among other reasons, it is a global warming/carbon issue to reduce unwanted/unused products. Be green.


Posted by Bulldozer, a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2008 at 9:16 am

This problem has been going on since the days of the Menlo Atherton Recorder. In fact, this paper (the Almanac) is also part of the problem.

You can't put these papers on hold when you go out of town. It doesn't take a crafty robber to figure out the pile of newspapers means the house is not occupied.


Posted by Ebara, a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jun 29, 2008 at 12:09 pm

The difference between the Almanac and the other papers is this:

When I wrote to the Almanac to be taken off of their delivery list, they immediately removed my address from the deliveries. The Almanac is a good corporate citizen.

When I tried to get off of the free junk Examiner Peninsula delivery list, it was very difficult. I hope they have improved, but my neighbors and I found that the Examiner ignores written requests and e-mail to circulation. We had success by contacting a circulation supervisor by phone. But even then, sometimes the Examiner Peninsula deliveries start up again and you have to again call circulation.

(I haven't had any experience trying to put any of these papers on "vacation" hold).

I actually like the Almanac - it is a quality publication, and I often look through it downtown over lunch. I just don't get it delivered at home.


Posted by SFExaminer and The Epoch Times hater, a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Dec 26, 2010 at 7:48 pm

I would really like to see an Opt In program as well. I cannot get the SF Examiner and the The Epoch Times... which actually came on my property and left their paper on my front doorstep... to stop delivering even though I've called, written and complained for a few years now. It stops and then starts up again.


Posted by SFExaminer and The Epoch Times Hater, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Dec 26, 2010 at 7:52 pm

thank you so much. I have given the SF Examiner yet another written notice. I have been given a reference number. Maybe this time it will work. Although my next line of attack is their advertisers.


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