Commercial Handbill Distribution Law On The Books

City Council recently passed a law that regulates the distribution of commercial handbills - specifically, the menus, coupons, newspapers, and directories that seem to appear with ever-increasing regularity on our porches, doors, and fences. Ald. Manny Flores introduced the ordinance after an East Village resident showed him how much of the area’s trash consisted of these materials.

The ordinance prohibits hanging items on door knobs or gates, stuffing papers in or under doors and gates, dropping off on property premises, attaching materials to unoccupied vehicles, and posting materials on public property (such as an ad on a lamppost). For handbills to be legally distributed, they need to have a business license number visible on the material, and placed “in an alternative receiving bin as provided by the property owner”. This law does not apply to hand-to-hand distributed items. The ordinance also requires newspapers to be bagged or bound. In addition, newspapers, magazines and directories, must also be placed in a box or bin.

Alderman Flores’s office is working to educate neighborhood businesses about the ordinance. The penalty for not complying with the ordinance will be a fine no more than $1.000, and no less than $200.

If you are bothered by excessive handbills, don’t call 911 – it’s not a police emergency. The Dept. of Streets and Sanitation Ward Superintendent will be writing tickets for violations. Send your complaints directly to:

Manny Gonzalez, Superintendent
1st Ward Streets and Sanitation Office
2505 W. Grand, Chicago 60612-1150
312.744.5523

For documentation purposes, label the materials with the date and address of where they were left. Other wards should contact their alderman or ward superintendents for instructions.

The information in this article was obtained from Ald. Flores’s Commercial Handbill Distribution fact sheet and Jordan Raubolt, Director of Communications to Alderman Flores.

— M. Isaacson