By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Yard / garage sales without permit is a city code violation
Art deWerk is Ceres Police Chief as well as Acting City Manager.

Now that the weather has changed for the better, yard sales (also known as garage sales, attic sales, barn sales, etc.) are taking place all over the city on weekends. There are rules that sellers need to know about, as well as the reasons why yard sales are regulated.

Yard sales at peoples' residences are limited to two every twelve months, and a permit is required for each yard sale occasion. These permits are available at the Ceres city hall, at a cost of $5 each. The sale period is limited to three days, and in cases where a resident wants to have more than two such sales in a twelve month period, a conditional use permit is required. Yard sale violations are treated as misdemeanors.

There are several reasons that yard sales are regulated. Included in the reasons is the fact that there is almost always an impact on the neighborhood where the yard sale is taking place. The common problems are traffic, parking issues, noise, and general neighborhood disruption. It is also the case that some people try to bootleg what should otherwise be a regular business. Regular businesses are subject to zoning restrictions, they have to comply with the appropriate business permitting and rules and they are required by the state and city to collect taxes. To allow some people to skirt the requirements is not fair to established business owners who comply with the rules and regulations. It is in effect allowing some people to operate with an unfair business advantage. The city is also interested in yard sales to the extent that they sometimes feature the sales of stolen property or other items that are prohibited.

A significant annoyance associated with yard sales is the illegal posting of signs that point to or advertise the yard sale. Not only is it illegal to affix signs on telephone poles, traffic sign posts, on streets and sidewalks, but it costs the city money to remove those numerous yard sale signs after each weekend throughout the spring, summer and fall. These signs, especially after they have been up for several days, take on the appearance of trash. They frequently become detached from their posts, ending up on the streets as unsightly litter. Technically, persons who post signs illegally are subject to citations and fines.

Yard sales are a great way to clear out houses, garages, sheds and attics of things that are no longer used. At the same time, it is not the intent of this city or others to cast a negative light on yard sales; in fact, these activities are seen as being quite normal and expected community activities. But there are sometimes instances of abuse, which us why local governments have to make laws that protect the best interests of the community and all individuals otherwise affected by yard sale activities.