Magazine article Editor & Publisher

S.F. Approves Anti-Red-Line Law

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

S.F. Approves Anti-Red-Line Law

Article excerpt

CANA CITY government force newspaper publishers, pizza makers and florists to deliver their products in high-crime areas?

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors thinks so. It voted unanimously recently to make it illegal for businesses that advertise home-delivery service to refuse to deliver to people in dangerous neighborhoods.

Steve Hearst, vice president of circulation for the San Francisco Newspaper Agency, the business arm of the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner, expressed doubt the ordinance will survive a legal challenge, but vowed to continue the agency's policy of refusing to send carriers into neighborhoods it considers dangerous.

The ordinance required the signature of Mayor Willie Brown to become law, but board president Kevin Shelly has asked the city attorney to determine the measure's chances if challenged.

Hearst, in an interview, said the agency provides vending machines outside the city's housing projects and other areas considered dangerous, and it assures same-day mailing to subscribers who ask for it.

"It's a difficult problem, and not only in San Francisco," he said. "But we're going to go in there if our delivery people are at risk." He said some agency carriers had been mugged before the agency halted delivery in those areas.

The ordinance was introduced by supervisor Willie Kennedy after two pizza restaurants refused to deliver to her grandson in the Hunters Point project.

She was quoted in the Examiner as stating: "I could live forever without a pizza, but it's not fair that people who live and pay taxes in the city can't get a pizza or a cab."

Kennedy had called for harsh penalties, including the removal of a company's business or franchise license, but the law as approved merely authorizes the district attorney or city attorney to seek civil damages against violators.

David Wilcox, the owner of one of the pizza places, told the Examiner his employees did not deliver to Kennedy's grandson because he had moved to a new street that was not listed in the store's database. Wilcox added, however, "There are some areas there I wouldn't feel good sending somebody, and people would refuse to go there. …

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