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garage sale ordinanceThis weekend is one of only four during which Anaheim residents may legally hold garage sales under a 2012 ordinance unanimously adopted by the city council, and the Orange County Register today took the occasion to run a critical editorial:

…such a prohibition, especially on something like holding a garage sale at your own home, seems an inherit violation of a property owner’s rights.

The city does allow residents to apply for an exemption – if there is a death in the family or they are selling items before moving – but the city shouldn’t be the arbiter of garage sales, period.
After all, there are plenty of rules and regulations already on the books that could have dealt with the few offenders without condemning the group.

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I’d like to provide a counter-point to Matt Cunningham’s criticism of the new garage sale ordinance. Local governments have a great deal of leeway in dealing with public nuisances and upholding community standards. Enacting a limitation on outdoor neighborhood activities like garage sales, the Anaheim City Council acted within its legitimate powers.

The purpose of the ordinance isn’t to limit the freedom of residents. It doesn’t,  in my opinion, limit anyone’s freedom in a meaningful way. It is a response to concerns expressed by residents over those who are running thrift stores on their lawns. They are eyesores and can impact property values. It’s a case of their rights colliding with the rights of their neighbors, and finding a middle ground that accommodates both. The fact that this divided council approved it unanimously says a lot.

This council or future councils are free to make adjustments in the ordinance as experience and circumstances, informed by feedback from residents and enforcement officers, dictate. Let’s save the homilies on liberty for issues where that is really what is at stake.

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