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Living in San Carlos March 12, 2015

New Ordinances in San Carlos Aim to Eliminate Unwanted Solicitations and Marketing Materials.

by Chuck Gillooley

Reduce Intrusions.

Responding to public complaints about unwanted solicitation material and an overall invasion of privacy, The City Council of San Carlos has taken some unique and aggressive steps to severely limit the intrusion of solicitors  — both the ones that knock on your door at all hours of the day, and those that litter your yard with marketing solicitation material or newspapers that you never requested.

In its most recent sessions, the Council considered two ordinances that address both of these issues, and may finally put some teeth in the enforcement of what has become a long standing annoyance in San Carlos. The only catch is that you’ll need to take the step to register your address to ensure protection under these new laws.

Unwanted Literature.

The first ordinance that is due to be adopted by the Council in a few weeks was largely brought about by complaints about the San Francisco Examiner, and their insistence on delivering their newspaper to the driveways of virtually every household in San Carlos — whether the residents consent to it or not. The problem that has arisen is that the Examiner does not seem to heed homeowner’s requests to cease delivering the newspaper to their homes.

As is discussed in this article in the Mercury News, one of the biggest problems with unsolicited newspapers, aside from the obvious litter, is when the papers start to accumulate on a driveway.  This can be an indication to burglars that the residents are gone for an extended period of time, which is never a good thing, and something homeowners cannot control if the papers keep showing up unsolicited.

To combat this, residents will soon be able to list their home addresses in a “refusal of consent” registry posted online by the City Clerk’s Office.  They can also inform someone not to disperse literature on their property or post clearly visible signs prohibiting it.

A violation of the ordinance will be considered an infraction, according to the City Attorney, and will carry fines for violating the ordinance. The first infraction will cost $100, the second $200, and each one after that $500.

Do Not Knock.

The second ordinance that will work its way through the Council is similar to the ordinance prohibiting unwanted literature, except that it’s aimed at door-to-door solicitors.  Much like the anti-literature ordinance, a registry will be created online where residents can register their addresses to opt out of commercial solicitations at their home.

The City passed a requirement a few years ago mandating that door-to-door solicitors obtain a permit before hitting the streets, but this update to the ordinance allows residents to put solicitors on notice that their home is a “Knock-Free Zone.”  According to this article in the Daily Journal, there are some groups who are exempted from this ordinance, such as political and religious groups, but this ordinance should go a long way to eliminating the annoying doorbell ring during dinner time.

One industry that has been an equal offender on both fronts is, unfortunately, the real estate industry.  Between Realtors knocking on the door insisting that “I have a buyer for your home” (even though they’ve never seen your home), or those who leave the same message on a business card unceremoniously dumped on your porch, there are a few in the industry who have raised the ire of many homeowners.  Both of these ordinances should allow homeowners to significantly reduce these intrusions.

Once these ordinances are fully approved by the City Council, the online registries will be available for residents to sign up. I will update this post with that information as it becomes available.
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