Garage Sale Ordinance: A Bit Draconian

OK, vacation is over and blogging will resume.

On November 13, the city council voted unanimously to enact a garage sale ordinance, where none previously existed.

Henceforth, it will only be legal to hold garage sales on the first full weekend of March, June, September and December from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The ordinance will be enforced with an escalating series of enforcement acts, beginning with courtesy notices.

I understand the where supporters of this ordinance are coming from, especially if they live in neighborhoods where someone is basically running a consignment store on their front yard.

However, it strikes me as pretty draconian to go from no limitations on garage sales to only four times per year. It seems to me the city could have explored and adopted a less heavy-handed approach, or a more liberal initial limit on the number of garage sales.

The ordinance contains provisions like a prohibition on offering food or beverages for sale or trade. Say your kids are entrepreneurial go-getters who want take advantage of the sidewalk foot traffic on a hot day to by selling bottles of water for 50 cents or a dollar; or your daughter the Girl Scout sees a chance to sell some Girl Scout cookies to help out her troop. No dice. They’d be breaking the law.

Older cities like Anaheim and Orange aren’t Irvine. They have a significant number of immigrant residents who are poorer, and who uses garage sales as a way of helping make ends meet. Amidst the seeming permanence of our slow economic growth and high unemployment, that’s not an inconsiderable consideration.

However, the ordinance has passed and we’ll have to see how it works out. In any case, it’s difficult to foresee any future liberalization of this ordinance.


  1. Sorry, Matt you are wrong this time. In a perfect world it would be fine to have garage sales all the time and kids could sell lemonade and girl scout cookies etc. But this is NOT the situation in the flatlands of Anaheim and it is far from perfect here. Giant swap meets with folks selling new items in their front yards are not ‘garage sales’ even Santa Ana had to regulate these….This is a good ordinance because the folks will know when they’re held and there will be order to the process – we will accumulate our stuff and put it out 4 times a year. I’m all for cleaning up our neighborhoods and some things have to take a hit in the process.

  2. Matthew Cunningham

    Hey, I believe this is an issue on which reasonable people can disagree. My basic point is if limitations are to be imposed, I would have advocated a more generous approach. If that didn’t work, then more stringent rules can be formulated. It is more difficult to dial regulations once imposed.

  3. This is the only thing that the council majority has done to improve our community. Thank you.

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