Archive for Friday, May 23, 2008

Sign rule angers sellers

May 23, 2008


— The city of Topeka is angering some residents who hold garage sales and the people who shop at them by aggressively enforcing an ordinance restricting where people can put temporary signs.

The ordinance prohibits freestanding temporary signs on public rights of way and on private property without the owner's permission. City workers are empowered to confiscate them - and they've been doing it regularly enough that the city is getting complaints.

Mary Jo Amirault was so frustrated by the confiscation of her signs for a recent garage sale that she cried. She said the city's actions cost her a day of customers.

And Ana McMahan said she and her fellow shoppers have trouble finding sales because signs get confiscated.

"They should just have the city pick up signs on Monday and not take them down during the week," she said. "It's a silly law and a waste of money. The city should be fixing potholes instead."

City spokesman David Bevens said three part-time workers patrol the city enforcing the ordinance from Thursday through Sunday - prime garage sale time.

For a resident who wants a sign back, retrieving it from the city comes with a $30 fee. Someone who wrongly places a sign on private property can be fined $50.

"What happens is people don't understand the difference between public and private property," Bevens said. "Right of ways are for utilities and public signs. People cannot put anything in them. They are just a pass to get from the street to your property."

The issue of garage sale signs is one of the more frequently visited topics by the City Council, with new ordinances adopted at least five times since 1994.


yellowhouse 9 years, 10 months ago

I dont understand why they take down garage sales sign but leave up realestate and political signs.

JSDAD 9 years, 10 months ago

what a wasted opportunity, instead of running around taking signs down why not tax each one and help pay the salery of the inforcement agent?

pace 9 years, 10 months ago

The lawrence city inspector came to my garage sale, told me to take down the signs that i had placed on utility poles, i explained I didn't have any signs up. He then said any garage sale sign at my residence had to be in front of the easement. i showed him my sign, right in front of him which was not on the easement. He then said the front of the sidewalk was city property, I said, no it is city easement but my property, I could tell this by who mows it. He said NO , it is city property. He did this with his hands on his hips and while I was trying to help a family looking at a piece of furniture. Yes they have choices about what laws are actively enforced. They don't have the staff to look for thiefs or hate crimes but they are putting ignorant yahoos on the beat to go house to house and interigate garage sale perpetrators. The city should just get focused on what is important. The policing culture seems more ego driven than service. Next time a theft occurs and they tell me that they haven't the time to look , i will suggest the thief had several yard signs on him.

Tristan Moody 9 years, 10 months ago

@JSDAD:Actually, not a bad idea--apply a small fee, $1-2 per sign that gives it permission to be posted on right-of-way during a specific time period. They can just stamp or emboss a seal on the sign. The city makes a little bit of money and doesn't anger the citizens.

Jaylee 9 years, 10 months ago

i think the city making ANY profit off the removal OR retrieval of a GARAGE SALE SIGN is proposterous!! who on their board seriously has the time to give a crap about this petty situation and who is dumb enough to have thought up a $30-50 city fee for the signs? this is just a ridiculous action and i hope it is amended soon, not because i regularly shop at garage sales in topeka, but for the principle that people leading cities in my state and country are not baffoons who cant think of legitimate ways to make money or accomplish goals. what a bunch of goofballs.

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