Topeka 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.