Garage sales, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday, are no bargain.
Saying residents pay a high price in increased traffic and noise when their neighbors have frequent yard sales, the board approved an ordinance that will limit households in unincorporated areas to two garage sales a year.
Supervisor Gloria Molina, author of the ordinance, said the law is necessary because many residents have complained that neighbors are turning their front yards into outdoor swap meets.
"We're trying to go after the people that have sales every weekend," said Molina, whose district includes East Los Angeles and Azusa, the source of many complaints. "Some of these sales are not only unsightly, but they're a problem for other residents."
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday January 13, 1994 Valley Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Column 5 Metro Desk 2 inches; 50 words Type of Material: Correction
Garage sales--The Times erroneously reported Dec. 1 that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors had passed an ordinance limiting households in unincorporated areas to two garage sales a year. In fact, although the majority of the supervisors voted to support such a law, the matter was referred to the Regional Planning Commission for public hearings.
"I agree with you--we have the same problem," said Supervisor Deane Dana, whose district stretches from Marina del Rey to Diamond Bar.
But Supervisor Mike Antonovich, whose district includes parts of the San Fernando, Santa Clarita, Antelope and San Gabriel valleys, said the law would hit residents with "the force of a sledgehammer" and proposed less stringent limits. Antonovich suggested Tuesday that residents be limited to six garage sales annually, but his proposal failed to gain any support from the four other board members.
"I am concerned that in these difficult economic times we are placing undue restrictions on property owners rights to conduct yard sales, and also depriving others from bargain hunting," Antonovich said. "Our code enforcement officers should be out there doing more important things, like going after illegal dumping of toxic chemicals."
The county's nine zoning enforcement officers will enforce the ordinance, said John Calas, the planner in charge of zoning enforcement. Calas said he welcomes specific restrictions because the district attorney's office has said it cannot prosecute even egregious cases without them.
The law is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 7. It will apply only to the 970,000 residents of unincorporated areas, or about 9% of the county's population. Churches, synagogues and other nonprofit groups are exempt.
Under the county ordinance, first and second offenses would be punishable by a fine similar to a parking ticket. Frequent offenses would be considered misdemeanors punishable by up to a $1,000 fine, said Robert Alaniz, Molina's spokesman.
In passing Molina's ordinance, the county joins Glendale, Rosemead and other jurisdictions that have responded to the proliferation of garage sales in recessionary times by passing laws or adopting policies governing them. Rosemead has a law limiting households to four garage sales a year, and Glendale has a policy that sets a twice-a-year limit.
The county's action is expected to breathe new life into an effort by Los Angeles City Councilman John Ferraro to get the twice-a-year limit put on the books there, a spokeswoman said. Ferraro proposed the limit three years ago, but the proposal has languished in committees and in the Planning Department, she said.