What do you do when you get home from work every day? Do you start making dinner? Turn on the TV? Have a beer? Take off the heels and put your feet up on the coffee table?
Chances are, before you’ve had the chance to do any of that, you throw away a fistful of fliers that have been left at your door — restaurant menus and other promotional materials, hung from the doorknob or wedged into the corner of the mailbox.
“Nothing drives me crazy like being bombarded with useless menus for places I’d never order from, and getting the same ones over and over and over and over,” said Brad Parr, a West Hollywood resident.
For most residents in this part of Los Angeles, “door spam” is a part of daily life — a nuisance, or even, after a long day day, a cause for anger. But now, the City of West Hollywood is working on an initiative to deter restaurants and other businesses from cluttering your doorknob with paper.
Modeled after a program in Long Beach called “Litter Free Long Beach”, the new initiative will encourage residents to make their opposition to door spam known. The city will send interested residents signs that declare door spam unwelcome, and will also offer form letters that residents can send to businesses that continue to leave fliers at their doors stating that they will no longer patronize those businesses.
“People hate getting that stuff,” said West Hollywood City Councilmember Jeffrey Prang. “Compliance is voluntary, but hopefully over time, if enough people participate, and businesses get letters saying that people don’t want their crap, we’ll begin to reduce the amount of unwanted paper being strewn around the neighborhood.”
In addition to the annoyance door spam causes residents, Prang also noted that when people go out of town, fliers at the door will start to pile up, which can draw the attention of burglars, or end up as litter in the street.
In addition, Genevieve Morrill, president of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, questioned the effectiveness of leaving fliers at doors.
“As a marketing person, I don’t think direct mail, and especially mail left on doorsteps, is very effective,” Morrill said. “I think businesses have to start to shift, and understand that while the economy will come back, media has forever changed our lives.”
Still, businesses continue to make a living distributing materials door-to-door. The Walking Man, Inc. has distributed all sorts of materials door-to-door in Southern California, from restaurant menus to political materials to local newspapers, for 62 years. Jed Kubrin, vice president of The Walking Man, said some cities require distributors to get licenses, which is usually easy to do.
“If there is a no distribute sign, we avoid that house,” Kubrin said.
Prang said he would like to ban leaving fliers on doors altogether, but it would be legally difficult without violating first amendment protections. However, it’s unclear how effective a resident driven campaign against door spam — with no teeth to sanction businesses who continue to flier doors — will prove to be.
Paul Hamel, a longtime West Hollywood resident, called the fliers “a nuisance”. Still, he said he probably wouldn’t bother to put up signs.
“I don’t know if it’s worth the trouble,” Hamel said. “I have a sign that says ‘No Parking in the Driveway’. That doesn’t do any good either.”
Prang hopes the program can reduce the amount of spam at residents doors by 20 to 30 percent.
“I think that would be a good start,” Prang said.