One person's sale can be another person's headache

By Amanda Schwarze
Staff Writer

Maple Plain officials are considering whether to regulate garage sales in the city.

The city council July 23 asked city staff to draft an ordinance that would limit the number of garage sales residents can have each year, the number of days each sale could last and the number of signs allowed for each sale. After the ordinance is written, the council would have to review it and vote in favor of it before any regulations would be in place.

Maple Plain Administrative Intern Maggie McCallum researched eight cities in the state that have garage sale ordinances.

According to her research, the cities of Ramsey, Montrose, Minnetonka and Woodbury allow residents to have two garage sales per year while the city of Staples allows for three per year and the cities of Osseo, Circle Pines and Delano allow four sales each year. All of those cities except for Ramsey and Montrose limit each sale to a length of no more than three days. In Montrose, people are permitted up to four days for each sale and in Ramsey people are permitted up to five days per sale.

Out of the eight cities researched, only the city of Staples required people to register their garage sales. Mayor John Sweeney asked how the other cities could enforce the regulations such as the number of sales a resident has held in one year. McCallum said that she had the same question, but that none of the other ordinances made note as to how the cities enforce the matter.

City Councilor Dave Eisinger said that he would be in favor of a registration process, but that it would have to be free.

City Councilor Roger Hackbarth said that he was not in favor of regulating garage sales in the city.

"We have more important things to worry about," Hackbarth said.

He questioned who would be in charge of enforcing the ordinance and Eisinger said that the police would enforce it.

"They have better things to do," Hackbarth said.

Hackbarth questioned if some members of the council might be interested in creating an ordinance because of issues with just one resident. If that was the case, he said, city officials should have a discussion with the resident rather than regulating all sales.

City Councilor Justin McCoy questioned if city officials would have any authority behind telling someone they were having too many sales without the ordinance. City Attorney Jeff Carson said they would not have power to limit the sales without an ordinance.

Sweeney said that he agreed with Hackbarth that he didn’t want to make a big deal out of the regulations. He said that the idea of creating an ordinance was brought up during a discussion the council had on limiting parking on certain city streets. Sweeney said he was most concerned with the parking issue and ensuring that emergency vehicles could access all city streets.

Hackbarth said that there was no question that the city had a problem with vehicles parking on the side of narrow streets. Garage sales, he said, were not the only reason why vehicles park on the street. He said that the same issues come up when people have graduation or pool parties at their homes. Solving the parking problem, Hackbarth said, would be best done by limiting parking to just one side of narrow city streets.

McCoy asked that city officials contact cities that have ordinances regulating garage sales but no registration requirement and ask them how they enforce the ordinance.

The council voted 3-1 to direct city staff to write an ordinance for further discussion at a future meeting. Hackbarth voted against the measure and City Councilor Jerry Young was absent from the meeting.