2007/04/30

Livable Cities - Pizza Flyer Redux

A lot of factors contribute to making a city unlivable. So-called quality of life crimes: Graffiti, vagrancy, panhandling, etc... are pretty high up on the list, but if you asked me on any give day, I'd probably say, "Trash!" Trash everywhere: On our sidewalks, in our gutters; people treating our streets like their own personal dumpster. And nothing hacks me off more than those those goddamned menus that every bloody mom and pop restaurant insists on attaching to my gate, dumping in my lobby, or simply dropping by the dozens onto the sidewalks outside my flat.

I've written about this before, both on this blog and to my city councilman without success. Because although San Francisco has a supposed commitment to clean streets and a livable city, just try and get the Department of Public Works or the police to actually do something about a practice that accounts for tons of refuse.

But perhaps all is not lost. New York City, which Mayor Gavin supposedly looks to for inspiration--when he's not getting testy about his latest peccadillo--may put in place an ordinance restricting the distribution of flyers. Place a sign on your door saying that the little missives aren't wanted...and VOILA! A fine for anyone who ignores your instructions. Now if only we could that kind of law here.

You listening Mr. Mayor?

22 Comments:

Kvatch,

In the scheme of things that you've ranted about, this weighs low in importance; but, high on my radar.

I live in a "gated community." The gate is mostly broken. Even when it isn't, flyers and soliciters are here more often than I am.

I'm with you on this one.
This just makes sense. If we can put our phone numbers on the do not call list, then why not do the same for flyers by posting a no flyers allowed notice. Wish we could do the same for spam.
Dave... Nothing contributes more to the beauty of a city than clean streets. Ever been to Sweden? The most pristine streets I've ever seen. I hope that NYC succeeds so that we can push it on our Mayor here.

Peacechick... I'm with you there, and actually I think that the 'do-not-call' lists have worked very well. Spam...doesn't bother me that much, but trash sure does! ;-)
Same as guns issue. It's not the flyers or other ordnances made of paper, it's the people who throw them.

Nordic cities are clean because people keep them clean. And it's not the street cleaners. Ordinary, every day people, your mom n' pop, regular Joes and Joettes. Change starts in our heads, not in laws.
This works when we work "bottom-up", not "top-down". Just like in nature conservation. You can have all the laws in place, but if people don't follow them you might as well be touching 14 year olds.
Be careful what you wish for. I don't think Rudy Guliani deserves as much credit as he gets for reducing crime in NYC. Violent crime was going down in cities all over the country at that time, probably for a variety of reasons. But there's no question that he cleaned up the city in a more literal sense. No more trash cans overflowing onto the streets. Subways were cleaner. And of course he swept away the untidy homeless population...to somewhere. And now...now we've got this Mussolini wannabe running for president. And being taken seriously, no less. I guess clean streets don't necessarily spawn facsists, but it's something to think about.
Between junk mail, local little garage sale newspapers and ads in baggies with rocks inside thrown in my yard, I sure do understand what you're saying.
How many phone books does one little condo-dweller need?

Really?

Is there a real difference between the 4 that get dumped on my doorstep every 3 months or so?

grrrrrr *pet peeve*
Oh

Forgot to say. One can never have too many pizza coupons.
Some scumbags (and I use that term very sparingly) in our building actually pass these things out for a living. Man, how I would like it to go away (along with the scumbags).

I guess there is a reason why they are called "flyers".

In Prague, it is generally clean but not because of the citizens. There are crews of street cleaners everywhere. Deficit spending=clean streets, at least in Prague.
Boy, you've touched a raw nerve with me on this one. I detest this sort of thing. We don't have it quite as bad as you seem to, but this is so wasteful in so many ways.

First of course, is the litter that flies everywhere. The last wind storm we had here landed all sorts of goodies in my yard. And I got to pay for the privilege of having it all hauled away.

Second, is the obvious waste of tons of perfectly good paper. I mean, let's get real. If 5% of these things ever actually get read, I'd bet the shop owner would say it's a good day. That's the equivalent of using a sawed off shot gun to shoot a mouse, and uses up a lot of (oxygen producing) trees.

Third, what about all the chemicals used to produce both the paper, and the inks used on these things? That's a lot of acids and solvents that will eventually have to be dealt with in the waste stream that in my mind, is completely unnecessary. I'm not sure if it's still so, but there used to be a lot of lead content in red inks, and they use lots of red ink in these things in an attempt to grab your attention. That all goes to the landfill, (Or in the case of NYC, the ocean.) and eventually leaches into the water table.

Last, is just the visual clutter and blight these things produce.

I'm sure the businesses will fight this, claiming violations of free speech and other nonsense. Rubbish! There are other lest wasteful ways to advertise, but they require some degree of thought and imagination. Something Americans don't seem to possess much of these days.
My daughter and son-in-law have a pizza restaurant in Chicago - I don't think they send out leaflets, but they gave me a nifty magnet.
Romunov, I don't disagree that "change starts in our heads", but without support from the municipality no single home-owner can compete against a thousand restuarants owners that don't care what your block looks like, and nobody's attitudes are going to change.

Zenyenta... I think that clean streets spawn happy residents. We're working on solutions for our homeless situation, and they don't involve making the homeless someone else's problem, but this city supposedly has a commitment to cleanliness. It just doesn't do much to live up to it.
PoP... I've tried to get the police to cite the restaurant for littering when I've found flyers on the sidewalks. They won't do it. Baggies with rocks would seem like vandalism. Have you tried using the cops?

Sewmouse... I haven't used a phone book in years. :-) When my Internet connection was down, I couldn't even find a phonebook. How sad am I?
Praguetwin... We've got crews and those great little sidewalk machines here, but the city won't use them outside of the tourist areas.

Haris... The businesses here are extremely hostile to anything that they feels infringes of their "right to advertise". I actually had a pizza joint owner threaten me when I dumped a dozen of his flyers back in his doorway.

Diva... Good for them. It seems to me, from the last time I visited, that Chicago has very similar trash problems as San Franciaco.
I would love to make all telemarketing and flyers and billboard ads illegal...

Then legalize marijuana and force all red states to smoke it...

Then pass a law that requires everyone to change their underwear twice a day, and underwear would be worn outside so that the underwear police can check it...
I'm against you on this one, but only because I love pictures of pizza on flyers almost as much as actual pizza itself.

You might want to look into volunteering for this, as well.
Denis... OK, you draft the legislation and I'll sign the petition. ;-)

PT... Many thanks for the link. Looks like a very worthwhile organization. Speaking of pizza... Stay tuned, I'm going to do an ROI on take-out options in the near future.
I will conceede that flyers can be abolished by government control, but keeping the streets clean is our responsibility.
ROI?
Romunov... I don't think you and I fundamentally disagree. I'm just willing to use the government to push attitudes in the right direction.

PT... (R)eturn (O)n (I)nvestment.
Just today, I found a flyer folded and shoved under the shutter on the front of my house. Very odd.
Froggy, sorry to come in the side door. I thought you might be able to solve something for me. I was asked about beat poetry, and had to go for what I think is the very best, Ginsberg’s Howl, even if it is not Kerouac. But then I ran into the dreaded asterix.
with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book
flung out of the tenement window, and the last
door closed at 4. A.M. and the last telephone
slammed at the wall in reply and the ,,,
I would have said fucked! But as that appears elsewhere in online transcripts I am confused. I don’t have a hard copy anymore. I once owned the real Bay City Bookshop edition, but there you go.
Any ideas on what this missing word might be? You can email to cartledgeatgmailetc

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