City Ordinance Should Control Advertising Materials As Litter

A Guest Opinion by Gary I. Currier

I think Georgetown citizens should ask the City of Georgetown to adopt
ordinances to regulate persons and organizations that leave all sorts of
unsolicited advertising materials on the property of Georgetown residences.

It seems like every day I have to remove unwanted advertising flyers,
business cards, newsletters, telephone directories from my front door (and in
the case of the phone books, even my driveway!).

In effect, these people are littering my property.  If someone leaves a
hamburger wrapper on my doorstep without my permission, that certainly would
be unlawful littering.  The fact that the offending litter carries an
advertising message doesn’t change this fact.

In addition to the eyesore issue, such home delivery of “junk mail” poses
certain potential economic damages to homeowners.  If a homeowner is out of
town on vacation, her or she can halt their newspaper or mail delivery so as
to not make it obvious to a passerby that they are gone.  However, the same
cannot be said about these hand delivered flyers, etc.  What better
invitation to a burglar than to see a front door plastered with all sorts of
flyers?

Also, if a person who is delivering these flyers trip on the homeowner’s
broken front step and is injured, the homeowner may be potentially liable
for the injuries . . . even though that person wasn’t invited in the first
place!

In order to avoid any free speech barriers to enforcing such an ordinance, I
propose that the City ordinance be something akin to the Do Not Call lists
established by the federal and state government.  Any homeowner who do not
wish to receive such advertising material may register their address with
the City.  Any business which wishes to advertise with such hand delivered
materials must obtain (for a fee) a permit from the City.  Any business
whose advertising materials are delivered to an address on the “Do Not
Deliver” address will be fined.  The costs from the permits and the fines
should cover the costs of enforcing the ordinance.

Citizens have a variety of means to protect themselves from unwanted
advertising through other media.  The Do Not Call list does an excellent job
for preventing unwanted telephone solicitations.  There are federal laws
that try to reduce “spam” email and, although not as effective, many email
programs have “spam filters” which are effective in eliminating such spam.
There are even means to register to reduce the amount of “junk mail” that
you receive through the US Postal Service.  TIVO allows you to what your
favorite television programs without having to view the countless
advertisements.  Satellite radio allows music aficionado to enjoy their
music without annoying ads.  However, there is currently nothing in place to
protect citizens from having to step over a pile of advertising litter left
on their doorstep every time they come home.

So, if you feel as strongly as I do, please do the following:

  1. Contact your City Council members and tell them you support a “Stop Home Delivered Junk Mail” ordinance
  2. If you know any business that utilizes such advertising, tell them that you are less likely to be their customer because they use their services.

Thank you for your consideration.

Gary I. Currier
Gabriel View Dr.

 

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