Today’s news:

This law is trash

The Brooklyn Paper

Though some are hailing it as a solution to a perceived inundation of unwanted fliers and pamphlets, new regulations that the Department of Sanitation trotted out this week reveal why city bureaucrats deserve some of the ridicule they so often receive.

Up until now, if a homeowner did not want restaurants, stores, supermarkets and other local businesses leaving fliers, a simple sign could request a reprieve from the pamphleting.

Indeed, several neighborhood groups created tasteful little laminated “No fliers” signs that appeared to be doing the job perfectly well. Since the signs started proliferating in Brownstone Brooklyn, the problem (such as it is) faded from the agenda of our headline-seeking pols.

But this week, the city unveiled an entirely new bureaucratic morass designed to “solve” what isn’t really a problem. Under the new rules, if a business leaves fliers at a house where a “No fliers” sign is hanging, the business can be hit with a $250 fine.

Oh, but there’s a catch — and as Fiorella LaGuardia might have said, it’s a “beaut.”

As our Mike McLaughlin reveals on page 14 of this week’s edition, those nice little laminated signs that neighborhood groups have been handing out are not big enough — or filled with enough bureaucratic jargon — to meet the letter of the new law.

Under the new regs, the signs must be a monstrous five inches tall and seven inches wide. And they must include the following language in letters at least one inch high: “Do Not Place Unsolicited Advertising Materials on This Property.” Isn’t that attractive?

Then, if the homeowner wants the offending merchant to feel pain — to the tune of $250 per violation — he must download a “citizen complaint form,” collect the unwanted fliers, and mail them to a Sanitation Department enforcement office on Shore Parkway.

Not only does this put the burden on homeowners, but it is pretty clear that there will be far more paper wasted in enforcing this jury-rigged system than was ever generated by the fliers.

There’s an even larger problem with the new law: Residents of multi-unit buildings are at the mercy of building owners as to whether they can receive restaurant menus and news of sales and bargains in their own neighborhood — information they may actually want.

The law allows the building owner — not each individual tenant — to put up the “No fliers” sign. We think that this is a clear violation of the business owners’ free speech rights and the rights of tenants to get information about their own communities.

Naturally, the politicians who crafted the law exempted a particularly irksome offender: their own fliers.

Isn’t that convenient?

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Reader Feedback

ESB from Gowanus says:
now, this is journalism - you call a spade a spade. Too bad it wasn't before the law passed.
Aug. 8, 2008, 1:44 pm
Jay says:
If the people distributing circulars went to each apartment in my multi-family property and neatly put their fliers inside the screen doors or in the mailboxes, I wouldn't mind. But they don't. They throw them randomly on the property, stick their menus in the crevices of the railings, and don't properly shield their stuff from the rain. In the end, I have to go picking up wet piles of paper from the flowerbeds, driveway, stairs and other areas that a dozen distributors target every day. In the absence of anyone else cleaning my property, my desire to not deal with this nuisance unfortunately overrides any desires for this crap that my tenants may have.
Aug. 11, 2008, 8:24 am
Robert Jones from Cobble Hill says:
You are very much mistaken. After literally dozens of calls to the outfit run by the Kenny Herman you frequently cite as the individual responsible for "90%" of the stoop and sidewalk litter in our neighborhoods,
nothing changed. The ugly bags continued to appear:
one two three four five each Wednesday on our stoop, and then on the sidewalks, and the street. Please.
And don't get me started on Papa John.
Let there be thousands of complaints from aggrieved homeowners who struggle to meet Sanitation Dept. requirements. Let the offenders pay attention at last to what were formerly polite requests to cease their littering. gOOD RIDDANCE TO THEM.
Aug. 24, 2008, 9:19 pm

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