This relates to a law to prevent litter caused by unwanted delivery of unsolicited free newspapers. Alexandria's Model Newspaper Delivery Law does not address subscriber services.
Alexandria is an independent city, meaning it is not part of another local jurisdiction (county) within the US state of Virginia (Virginia calls itself the "Commonwealth of Virginia".)
In response to over 100 complaints lodged with the Alexandria Office of Citizen Assistance, the Office submitted a "Do Not Deliver List" bill in June-06. That ordinance would have established a "Do Not Deliver" list to be maintained by the city. The bill raised First Amendment free speech issues, and was otherwise problematic. It would have also placed a burden on the Alexandria Gazette, a weekly which generally was not identified in complaints.
In March-09, after receiving "hundreds" of complaints, the City Manager's Office raised the issue before City Council a second time. The new bill, passed as Alexandria City Code §9-14 dropped the "Do Not Deliver" list, instead requiring that the newspaper itself maintain independent lists.
The logic is the same as the Federal "Do Not Call" list -- Telling every telemarketer to not call proved to be an exercise in futility. In the case of forced newspaper deliveries, there were a total of two papers, with only one generating almost all of the complaints.
The new proposal required that the newspaper maintain telephone, written and internet "Do Not Deliver" procedures.
The complaints varied, but included refusal by one newspaper to comply with requests to stop delivery. Generally, requests were either ignored or in some cases double deliveries were made. In some cases, papers were allowed to pile up. Other abuses included using a "For Sale" sign in front of an obviously vacant house for target practice with the papers. There were also complaints of the papers being thrown on the sidewalks, right-of-way strips and in the streets. One homeowner, who apparently gave up, resorted to keeping the papers in a pile.
- A publisher of an unsolicited publication shall provide reasonable methods to accept "no delivery" requests.
- "including but not limited to, telephonic means, e-mail means and regular mail means"
§9-14 does not apply to temporary "stop delivery" requests.
- Timely comply with requests to not deliver
- "implement and utilize a system or procedure for tracking and executing a publisher's direction regarding requests for no delivery ..."
- Provide a tracking reference to the person making the "no delivery" request
- "implement and communicate to the requesting person a means of tracking requests"
- "upon written request from the director of the office of citizen assistance ... provide the City of Alexandria with contact information for any applicable distributor to allow the city to follow up with that distributor on any complaint received by the city from a resident regarding delivery ... after making a request ..."
"... take any corrective measures requested by the City of Alexandria ..."
- In making deliveries, use their best efforts to place publications in proximity to the entrances ... not be placed on streets, sidewalks, public rights-of-way, or other public property and shall not be distributed by placing them at intervals along a block ..."
- Not dump unsolicited newspapers in multi-family buildings in excess of readership
- "... placing several near the entrance to a multi-unit building, other than in direct relation to the number of publications requested by the occupants of the block or building ..."
- If the publication can be located, the distributor thereof shall remove any publication delivered in violation of section 9-14-2(b)(2) within 24 hours following notice and demand by the owner or occupant [or] the director of the office of citizen assistance or designee.
(a) Any resident of the City of Alexandria wishing to make a complaint regarding delivery of an unsolicited newspaper in violation of this chapter to the property at which they reside or which they own shall provide the following information to the director of the office of citizen assistance or designee:(1) the name of the requesting person;(b) Any resident of the City of Alexandria wishing to make a complaint regarding a publisher's failure to provide a tracking number or other means of reference for a no delivery request in violation of section 9-14-2(a)(4) of this chapter shall provide the following information to the director of the office of citizen assistance or designee:
(2) the address that was the subject of the request;
(3) the date of and method used to make the request;
(4) the tracking number or other reference information provided by the publisher in response to the request; and
(5) the name and publication date of the unsolicited publication that is the subject of the complaint.(1) name of the requesting person;Alexandria Office of Citizen Assistance: 703-746-4800
(2) the address that was the subject of the request;
(3) the date of and method used to make the request; and
(4) the name and publication date of the unsolicited publication that is the subject of the complaint.
How to Request that The Examiner Not DeliverDon't bother ... they discontinued their carpet-bombing after Alexandria (and presumably other municipalites) passed these newspaper delivery ordinances.
... but for other papers, here are instructions. They should apply for any jurisdiction with laws patterned after Alexandria's Model Newspaper Delivery Ordinance. (Note that it is possible that multiple papers and flyers may share the same distributor, in which case stopping a particularly obnoxious one may also stop a more desirable one. That's why they have newspaper boxes.)Internet:Phone:
- Obtain a "throw-away" email address. (e.g., mailexpire.com, jetable.com, spamgourmet.com, mailinator.com. The "throw-away" address should be valid for at least a week.)
- Logon to http://intranet.dcexaminer.com/examinerintranet/stopdeliveryreq.cfm* §9-14 does not apply to temporary "stop delivery" requests.
- Call 800-541-1223 (call from a payphone if you think they may be collecting phone numbers)
main no. *67-1-202-903-2000 and ask for "Circulation"
- Write down the name of the person taking the call
- Request that the delivery be "permanently" stopped *
- Request a "tracking number" or other way to identify this call under the provisions of Alexandria City Code §9-14. (If they hang up on you, just call back.)
- If the deliveries continue (after 3 days**), call the Alexandria Office of Citizen Assistance, at 703-746-4800
** §9-14 does not provide for a 3-day waiting period.
Most jurisdictions have littering, leafletting and dumping laws which are applicable; however, in the case of unsolicited newspapers, it is generally required to request that the newspaper discontinue the dumping. The problem is that they frequently deny receiving the request, in combination with their standard public excuses.(Standard excuses in the industry are, "new delivery person or service", "developing a new system for addressing these complaints", "hadn't been brought this to the attention of the manager", and "the citizen hadn't talked to the right person". They sometimes claim "free speech" if they think someone is too stupid to understand the concept of an individual saying "no".)If the newspaper is unwilling to provide a tracking number, sending a Certified Mail letter requesting non-delivery is often the best way to prove that you sent the request. ("Certified mail" is US postal jargon for proof of mailing; "Registered" is insured mail.) This can be a simple request, or can express concerns, such as accumulated newspapers attracting burglars.
After sending the letter, it is a matter of either getting help from the local government or proceeding with direct court action. If you intend to obtain an injunction, sample D-I-Y forms are typically available in the form of domestic violence protective order filing documents. (Use these samples for the court pleading forms only; don't use the special attachments intended for domestic violence filings!)
First posted 29-Sep-09. Last revised 7-Aug-10.
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