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The Sale Must Go On

Mobile Home Owners Have Items--and Rules--They Don't Want

April 02, 1998|PHIL DAVIS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

STANTON — Kevin Carr loathes his mother's big blue chair.

"It's the big joke, the ugliest thing you've ever seen," he says, laughing. But Carr is a believer in the adage that one man's trash is another's treasure, so he'd like to unload old big blue and some household knickknacks at a yard sale later this week.

Trouble is, he's not allowed.

Carr, 30, lives in Katella Mobile Home Estates, and his rental agreement prohibits yard sales in the park. Carr and a handful of residents tried to get a $10 city yard sale permit in defiance of park rules, but city officials revoked the permit when Katella Estates owner Marsha Carter told them she had not--and would not--make an exception to the park's no-yard sale rules.

City code gives her the final word, and the city recently mailed 279 letters warning park residents that any yard sales in the community would violate city laws.

"We've been following the rules, but they just won't listen," said Carr, a MediCal claims hearing representative. "So we said to hell with all of them, and we're going to have a yard sale. We have some die-hard yard-salers here and we're going to prove a point."

Mayor David John Shawver said all 12 Stanton mobile home parks have similar prohibitions, primarily to satisfy many residents' concerns about inviting strangers to the neighborhood.

"We're not playing Big Brother here," Shawver said. "We're there to protect [the property owner's rights], and that's what we're doing in this case."

Stanton is not alone in its struggles with yard sales. From Beverly Hills to Garden Grove, city officials have grappled with the issue. More than a dozen Southland cities put limits on garage sales. Two years ago, Los Angeles approved a controversial limit of five garage sales a year. The city also banned the sale of new merchandise--a strike at so-called "perpetual" yard sales that are more like sidewalk flea markets.

In Anaheim, city leaders seeking to ban perpetual sales backed off when residents protested proposed restrictions.

Stanton allows up to four yard sales a year and requires a $10 permit. But City Manager Terry Matz said the permit cannot be issued unless the property owner approves the sale. The permit issued to a Katella Estates resident for this week's sale was conditional on Carter's approval, Matz said.

In the past, Carter has allowed yard sales in the park's common area on Katella Avenue. But she said she stopped that after state tax collectors threatened to charge her for uncollected sales tax because some residents appeared to be running businesses instead of unloading unwanted bric-a-brac.

The city's letter to all park residents caused quite a stir when it arrived Wednesday. Many Katella Estates residents had an opinion on the yard sale issue, but few were willing to speak publicly.

"I agree with the city," one resident said. "It's just too much going on in here at one time. There's not enough room for all that junk. And we don't have enough parking."

Lois Powell, a Katella Estates resident for 20 years, disagreed.

"Myself, I wouldn't have one, but I don't see anything wrong with it," Powell said. "I think it's fine as long as they keep it clean."

Carter said she doesn't have a problem with yard sales, but she said the park doesn't have the parking to host sales. Besides, she added, it's against park rules and has been since the beginning.

Neither she nor the city have decided what to do if Carr lives up to his rebel-sale threat.

Carr remains defiant. Come Friday morning, he said, the big blue chair will be sporting a $20 price tag in his carport: "Rain or shine, we're having it."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

NEIGHBORHOODS / Katella Mobile Home Estates

Bounded by: Union Pacific railroad tracks on the north, Katella Avenue on the south, Mac Street on the east and Dale Avenue on the west.

Population: About 279

Hot topic: Residents plan rebel yard sale

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