Council Weighs Limiting Garage, Yard Sales

City council's housing committee is split on the details.

Lakewood City Council is considering in the city.

However, the details are still being ironed out.

Council’s housing committee weighed some options at a meeting at on Monday night.

“Either we stick with this language, and we allow the desires from one administration to the next to determine enforcement, or we can make it more exclusive,” said law director Kevin Butler, who introduced the measure to council.

“I ask that city council develop a community standard.” 

The opinions of the committee members were varied — with some suggesting the proposed ordinance is too harsh on the sales, while others noted that it doesn’t go far enough.

But they all agreed that the city needs some rules on the books. 

Compared to some of Lakewood’s neighbors, the city has few limitations on garage/yard sales, according to a data compiled by the law department.

For example, Lakewood does not limit the number of sales a resident can have each year — most communities cap the number at two or three. 

Also, Lakewood doesn’t regulate how many consecutive days a sale can take place.

Essentially, residents can host a garage sale every day.

All of that may change.

According to the amended proposal, residents would only be permitted to have four garage/yard sales per year; the sale would be required to take place at the rear of the property; and signs would need to be smaller than 5-square feet and displayed only one day prior to the sale.

“What will this do that our current nuisance ordinances won’t do?” asked committee chair David Anderson, referring to “chronic” garage sales.

Butler responded: “There is no general nuisance ordinance that would (prevent) repeat garage sales. Garage sales are generally accepted and not widely considered to be a nuisance.” 

Ward 4 councilwoman Mary Louise Madigan said garage sales are an “American pastime,” but added that there needs to be some regulation.

“My concern isn’t the sign before the sale, it’s the junk left by exhausted and lazy people after the sale. We have to be serious, clear and creative with this.”

Ward 3 councilman Shawn Juris said he’d prefer to limit the sales to two per year.

“Garage sales in 2012 are relatively outdated,” he said. “We have second-hand stores, we have eBay and we have Craigslist. While it may be time-tested and nostalgic, it’s not something I think we need to hold on to … I think there should be two per year and I think they should be in the garage.”

Residents in attendance also had differing opinions.

Some shared concerns that frequent garage sales in the neighborhood could drive down their property values.

Lakewood resident Christina Ward took a different perspective. She said limiting garage sales to the backyard is “ridiculous.”

“This regulation is going to get a lot of people mad,” she said.

Council is set to discuss the issue again at its next meeting.

Jason Ward July 10, 2012 at 05:17 PM
My first question whenever someone or some council wants to pass a law is WHAT FOR? Even though yard sales are being replaced with e-bay, and craigslist, it's still my property. Who is city council to tell me what I can or cannot do on my own land? As long as the yardsale doesn't disturb the neighbors, why is this even an issue? I would think our city officials would have bigger "fish to fry." And as for the idea of restricting the sales to the backyard garage, what about the properties that don't have a garage, or a usefully large enough back yard? If the person having the yard sale leaves a mess in the front yard, could that person not be cited for the mess itself? Why restrict responsible people because of a few slobs that could be fined by another law anyway? Here's another archaic idea that comes with yardsales: meeting your neighbors and maybe making actual friends. Is that so bad?
Evan Hammersmith July 10, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Will, I don't think that's correct. I thought it was some outfit from Pittsburgh that brings trucks to get our recyclables. I've never put something out to the curb (made of metal) that was to be kept by someone to use. it's always for scrap. The city loses out. I know the city does not take issue with picking of non-recyclables. Who would? As you said, it's less they pay to take to the landfill. bulk metal items dont see the landfill though.
Ruth Sholtis-Furyes July 10, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Sure there are people having regular sales. Is it a problem, probably if you lived next to one. But garage sales are NOT outdated. I have 1 a year and do very well. It fuels the renovations on the money pit. If I had the time, I'd do more. Everyone should be allowed 4 free sales a year that they register with the city, any more and there would be a fee assess. Days should be limited to 4 each sale. On your property anywhere. Signs should be removed by the end of the day on the last day of the sale. If not, can a littering fine be assessed? The address is right on the sign...
Ruth Sholtis-Furyes July 10, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I actually never met most of my neighbors until I had a garage sale. They are quite the social event.
Steve July 10, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Our own polititions cannot police themselves. I guarntee that after every election there are numerous political signs still on lawns a week later. And yes, there are names on them, but are they fined? Not... Most of city council had signs still up 1 week after the vote. Lets be fair here.
Steve July 10, 2012 at 06:15 PM
guarantee, sorry
Sandy July 10, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Dave, I believe it was said tongue in cheek
Sandy July 10, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Some one person without a life probably complained.
Sandy July 10, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Right on, Steve.
Sandy July 10, 2012 at 06:40 PM
More regulations, that's what we need. And the politicians know just what laws to pass for our own good. As Eddy said in Abfab - Laws are for stupid people. Give me a break.
Sandy July 10, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Absolutely, Paula. I totally agree regarding garbage picking.
Steve July 10, 2012 at 06:46 PM
I agree Sandy. Maybe we should have a law that say's 'if you do stupid things, then YOU will be fined'. That alone would leave 95% of us alone, and target the 5% that are truly stupid.
Christina Cocchiarale Ward July 11, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Sandy, more than one person has complained. And apparently were noticed by some of the committee members. I was obviously not one of them as I was quoted in this article. I am not one who usually has yard sales but am 100% FOR them. I hope something decent can be worked out. And you can bet this won't go away. Some regulations WILL be enforced. All because of some people who have too many sales and leave their signs up. I never noticed this myself. Well, maybe a few signs here & there.
Christina Cocchiarale Ward July 11, 2012 at 12:58 AM
I agree with you, Evan, about the sales being allowed to be anywhere on the property. It is OUR property, not the city's. And the stuff is put away at the end of the day. At the meeting last night I told them basically that it was ridiculous that we can't put them in OUR (the homeowners) front yard. Absurd. Then they were talking about apartments & condos. Everything is still being hashed out.
Christina Cocchiarale Ward July 11, 2012 at 01:00 AM
I agree. You need to come to the next meeting please!! The date isn't known yet but we need more people there. Only a few of us at yesterday's meeting.
Christina Cocchiarale Ward July 11, 2012 at 01:08 AM
And it is ILLEGAL to staple or tape signs to utility poles, did anyone know that? They said it's one that's not enforced but with all these regulations coming up, I suppose it will be. Where will the people be able to put signs? We'd have to figure it out ourselves. And so far they're talking 3 signs for each sale, may be put up day before & day of. Not SUPPOSE to be in the tree lawns as that's city properties but again, people do it anyway. Oh--and the signs can be no more than 5 sq. ft. each. Really?? That's absurd. Big signs, colorful signs, etc. draw the people in. If they'll be too small to read while driving you're going to have tons of people stopping suddenly to try to read the signs because people will have to write smaller or maybe just write less. Confining to the backyard is ABSURD. Last night when that was mentioned I was the first one to pipe up on the subject. I disagree. I told them people are drawn by what's on the front lawn. I told them that if someone was driving by and happened to see a sale with something interesting they'd most likely stop because they can SEE it. I don't think they see my point though. And I said why not do something else that's actually important. I forget the exact words....Lakewood Patch remember what he said exactly?? But what I said was basically shot down. I do have the paper on what other cities do. Some have decent regulations; some are ridiculous.
Colin McEwen July 11, 2012 at 01:56 AM
I'd rather not try to interpret what law director Butler was saying. But here goes. I think he (sort of) agreed with you: There ARE more important things in the city to focus on. Lots of issues come before the city that aren't the most pressing issues facing the city. But the city still deals with them. Again, I am paraphrasing.
will July 11, 2012 at 02:21 AM
I think that the tree lawns may not be city property. If they were, then why would the city fine people for not taking care of them. An old neighbor of mine was fined for having an unkempt tree lawn and a broken sidewalk and had to repair them both himself. One would think if it was city property (sidewalks should be at least) then the city should take the responsibility.
will July 11, 2012 at 02:26 AM
The city does look the other way on signs. Yes it should be our responsibility to take them down but people do forget at times. The city claims it wants to be more eclectic, more small business friendly. Limiting yard sales goes against that. I'd prefer if the city put more time and effort into fixing the roads, like Madison, that have potholes or are decaying, getting onto the school board for stuff like gross tasting or semi cold lunches for the kids (had issues for that this year with my kids, school board did nothing) or even cutting down on more crime. Those should be more of a focus than yard sales.
Paul Grimm July 11, 2012 at 02:28 AM
I've seen people in the street trying on clothes that were thrown away on the treelawn - leaving their cars running while they rummage through the garbage.
Christina Cocchiarale Ward July 11, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Amen to that, Will. But from what I understood yesterday that is indeed city property or whatever they actually called it. Yes, fix the potholes. Get some new businesses in the old empty lots on the east end. Now I understand it's not up to them to do that, true but what would it hurt to call and ask? I've thought abt myself calling say, Trader Joe's and asking. And I was encouraged to do so. Just haven't yet but I bet it would settle in better with the mayor or a council man calling.
Christina Cocchiarale Ward July 11, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Thank you, Colin. Appreciate it!
Christina Cocchiarale Ward July 11, 2012 at 02:31 AM
And yes, the city does deal with a lot of issues/problems. But maybe they should tend to ones that appeared BEFORE the yard sale issues. Just sayin'. Thanks again.
Richard Madison July 11, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Looks like every thing is a nuisance around here . Regulate lemonade stands lol are u kidding me. we all done this when we were kids to learn how to make and count money have a little fun and off the streets. please no More regulations and rules
Jason Ward July 11, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Valid questions.... but why should the city fine someone for peeling paint on their own house....?
Jason Ward July 11, 2012 at 11:37 AM
I am sure I'm not the first to mention this, but I'd like to agree: If Lakewood is known for yardsales, and if people from Lakewood and neighboring communities come to the yardsales, does that not also bring hungry, thirsty tired people with cash in hand into the city? Does that not help local business as well?
Jason Ward July 11, 2012 at 11:39 AM
.... Almost forgot! .... My gripe: We are worried about people selling their used junk on the front lawn, but it's ok to bring the Valueworld? Maybe the concern is yardsales are competition for thrift stores?
Jenni Westphal Lizanich July 11, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Yes of course I was kidding. I think this garage sale issue is a waste of time and money.
Christina Cocchiarale Ward July 11, 2012 at 07:14 PM
So true, Steve.
Christina Cocchiarale Ward July 11, 2012 at 07:15 PM
They are starting to NOT look the other way on signs though. Watch out. Serious. Talking about fining people. They are NOT doing it. Just one point brought up at the meeting.


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