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Council Explores Options to Garage Sale Clutter : Enterprise: Anaheim officials say some residents are operating illegal small businesses. Solutions include restricting dates for residential vendors or requiring low-cost permits.


ANAHEIM — City officials say they want to find a way to curb hundreds of unsightly yard sales in neighborhood driveways every weekend, often operating as small businesses.

"Our community is being blighted by the proliferation of garage sales and yard sales," said Councilman Frank Feldhaus. "There is junk on yards and on the sidewalks. People lay clothes on yards and trees and just don't display any of it well. I want to see a city that I'm damned proud to live in and that will bring tourists in."

The sales have become common throughout the city, with more than 200 occurring on an average weekend, city officials said. While usually a way to get rid of old clothes, furniture or appliances to earn a few dollars, the sales are becoming increasingly commercial, officials said.

"I find that the same people are having them weekend to weekend to weekend, and it's become something of a business," Councilman Irv Pickler said.

John Poole, city code enforcement manager, said he often sees a large number of used appliances being sold in a single location and an increasing amount of brand-new merchandise on sale.

"This is more than just stuff people pulled out of their garage," Poole said. "For some people, this is turning into a commercial business."

Poole said the city might be losing some possible revenue from business license fees and sales tax incomes if commercial merchandise is being sold illegally, but he said this has not been a concern of city officials.

"The city's main concern is preserving residential areas," Poole said. "We wouldn't want any revenue from that type of sale because it deteriorates the neighborhood. The practice itself is what's the problem."

The sales are already prohibited under Anaheim's zoning code, but the code is rarely enforced, he said.

"Technically, they are not allowed," Poole said. "But as long as no one is routinely having them, we haven't taken any action. We try to work with people, because a lot of residents have an occasional sale. Where we have gotten involved is where it's a continual thing or a commercial enterprise. (That is) the reason we have residential zones, so you don't have the intrusion of business."

Mayor Tom Daly said he would at least like to see some stepped-up enforcement.

"There does seem to be an extra amount of abuse on the weekends," Daly said.

The City Council is scheduled to formally discuss ways to deal with the situation later this month. Among the possible solutions: designating only certain days during the year for the sales; allowing only a certain number of sales per address; or requiring that residents obtain a low-cost permit, Feldhaus said.

If the city were to restrict the sales to a limited number of occasions during the year, officials would be following in the footsteps of the Santa Ana City Council, which passed an ordinance earlier this year in an effort to curb abuses.

In Santa Ana, the sales are allowed only on the first weekend of four months out of the year.

"I don't think Santa Ana's ordinance is too restrictive," Feldhaus said. "But maybe we can start off with six times per year."

But Anaheim resident Amin David, a Latino activist, said he doesn't see the need for any restrictions.

"I drive around Anaheim and I don't see that this is something that should cause alarm," he said. "These sales have mostly Latino buyers because of the low-income strata we occupy. They are out there looking for things that are needed at a very low cost.

"I was opposed to the Santa Ana ordinance," David added. "I think it stopped a lot of people from having an income."

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