GUEST OP-ED - Taking action against unsolicited advertising

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Property owners know the feeling: They come home after a hard day’s work or back from vacation only to find piles of unsolicited and unwanted advertising material on their lawn. This unwelcome material, which the homeowner has no choice but to gather and pick up, can be more than an annoyance and an enormous waste of paper. As it piles up while the homeowner is away on vacation, this material does its job in an unexpected way, “advertising” the fact that no one’s home, giving would-be robbers the green light to come in and help themselves.

Fortunately, help’s on the way. In fact, within a few days property owners will be able to fight back.

Saturday, August 2 will mark the beginning of the enforcement of the New York State General Business Law Section 397-A. Also known as “the Lawn Litter Law,” the new regulation allows property owners to post a sign in a visible area of their property, prohibiting the placement of unsolicited advertising material on their property. The property owner’s sign, which must be as least five inches tall and seven inches wide, must state in letters at least one inch in size: “Do Not Place Unsolicited Advertising Materials On This Property.” The sign can be placed in visible areas, such as on lawns or front doors.

In multiple dwellings, signs can be put up indicating how many units wish to receive unsolicited ads and where they must be placed.

If property owners receive unwanted advertisements, they can fill out a citizen complaint form against the unsolicited advertisements placed on their property, enclose the unsolicited ads with their complaint form, and mail the package to:

Director of Enforcement

NYC Department of Sanitation

c/o Unsolicited Advertisement Enforcement

1824 Shore Parkway

Brooklyn, NY 11214

For additional questions or to obtain complaint forms, property owners may call 311. After August 2, complaint forms will also be available by downloading them from the Department’s website,

Advertisers found in violation of the “Lawn Litter Law” will be subject to a $250 fine, applicable to each piece of unsolicited advertising material.

Finally… a way to fight unsolicited advertising, and prevent those unsightly and wasteful piles of paper on your property.

John J. Doherty is the commissioner of the Department of Sanitation.

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