Maple Plain City Council decides against regulating garage sales

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Sound Off by Don Heinzman — With all this talk about over regulating the market, the Maple Plain City Council decided regulating garage sales would not be worth the effort to reduce traffic congestion on its narrow streets.

Chalk one up for Maple Plain, because after some investigation and thought, the council decided it had more important things to do than regulate the number and length  of garage sales.

Sometimes local laws go on the books for the wrong reasons.

Maple Plain had good intentions.  Someone obviously complained about garage sale traffic causing a safety hazard.   It just makes sense for someone from the city to go to that homeowner to settle the problem.

Except to warn someone officially, you have to have a law, advises an attorney.

And, Maple Plain did do some checking to see what other cities are doing about garage sale complaints.

Intern admnisrtator Maggie McCallum found that nearby cities have garage sale ordinances.  Ramsey, Minnetonka and Woodbury allow their residents to have two garage sales a year.

Osseo, Circle Pines and Delano allow four sales.  All those cities, except Ramsey and Montrose limit the sale to no more than three days.  Ramsey has five.

How do you enforce the law? Imagine the Garage Sale Patrol swooping down on some innocent home owner who had the third garage sale of the year.

Ramsey and Minnetonka, and I assume the others, enforce the code on a complaint-only basis.  If someone were to complain about too many and loud garage sales, someone talks to the seller, who usually is  unaware of the ordinance and that’s the end of it.

So why have an ordinance?

Some say one is needed when the sales are held regularly as a business.  One cited a case of someone who didn’t live in the house but used it to conduct monthly garage  sales.

Sometimes the complaint is due to a neighborhood dispute.

Maple Plain is checking out other ways to reduce the traffic congestion on its streets.

Rest easy, garage sale sponsors, the free market has triumphed. – DON HEINZMAN


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