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On Garage Sales, Palm Coast Rejects $5 Fee But Preserves Registration Requirement

| September 5, 2012

Oil change not included. (KRC)

There will be no $5 fee for your next garage sale in Palm Coast. But you’ll still be required to get a permit to hold a weekend-garage sale, and you’ll be limited to two sales per year from any one location.

The Palm Coast City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday evening to impose a more rigorous permitting and tracking system for garage sales. It will use the next six months as a test period and re-evaluate the matter then, possibly increasing the allowance of annual garage sales to three.

Council member Jason DeLorenzo, a P-Section resident,  had proposed the new regulations in answer to what he and the city administration perceived as a nagging problem: proliferating and illegal garage sale signs throughout the city, “a few bad apples” holding repeated sales in contravention of the city’s limit of two per year, cars tearing up neighbors’ lawns by parking on residential streets for their treasure hunts.

“I’ll take the heat,” DeLorenzo said. “This was my idea. I had a number of phone calls, one gentleman called me, he wouldn’t even give me his name because he didn’t want to start an argument with his neighbor, but they had had seven garage sales this year. Our code enforcement is reactive, and he didn’t want to start that feud with his neighbor, but he wanted it to be enforced. All my suggestion is, is that we have a registration so that we can better enforce this to protect our neighborhoods.”

But DeLorenzo and the administration had no hard data to back up their claims. DeLorenzo referred to code enforcement picking up 500 illegal signs a month, which would imply that the city’s rough average of 35 garage sales per weekend—according to David Dixon, a Woodlands resident who goes to more than 50 of them a month and tracks them through the Pennysaver—would generate three to four illegal signs each. And when asked for any code enforcement data that would point to an issue, the administration again was unable to provide it.

“How many people are cited by code enforcement for violating the city’s code on garage sales?” council member Bill McGuire asked Nestor Abreu, the community development director.

“Very few, that’s part of the difficulties,” Abreu said. “If we don’t track it, you get a complaint and some neighbor will tell you well, there’s been five, we haven’t documented any, we haven’t seen any, so you start with a deficit. So, not very many.”

Council member Frank Meeker, the lone dissenter in the 4-1 vote, had also asked for data about people who abuse the two-sales-per-year limit. There was none. “There are a few bad apples that are abusing the system and they’re causing the concern,” Jim Landon, the city manager, said. “Most people don’t have that many garage sales, and most people aren’t the problem, but if that resident lives next to you, they expect us to solve the problem.”

In its new system, the city will require residents to register and permit their garage sales online or by phone. In turn, the city will identify through its website where garage sales would be held, their length (one or two days: they may not be held for longer than that), providing addresses and mapping, and giving people holding garage sales the opportunity to list some of the items they’ll have on sale. The city would recommend, but not require, emails and phone numbers.

Meeker had no objection to a voluntary registration and advertising system through the website. He objected to the fee, and to the mandatory permitting system, especially in light of the absence of a pronounced problem and the alternatives he was proposing. Acknowledging the bad apples Landon was referring to, Meeker said: “We notify code enforcement, code enforcement starts an active file, keeps it on record, checks it, we get a phone call back, they’re having another yard sale, code enforcement knows the location. We can monitor it now. I can see how having the permit helps you do your job, but I also see how code enforcement can handle this on their own with a notepad and a piece of paper and a minor database in Excel on their computer at work. Like I said, I like government small, I don’t like government collecting information on citizens, I don’t like collecting permits for things I’m doing on my property. I do believe we have much bigger things to fret over than this.”

Eleven people addressed the council on the matter, almost all of them opposed to the mandatory nature of the system, or its strict limits, or to the fee, though there was much less resistance to the free advertising and mapping on the city’s website. Still, some opponents noted that the Pennysaver is a free publication dropped on people’s driveways: it, too, is free (to readers, anyway), though Jon Netts, the mayor, said it costs money to advertise a garage sale in the publication. One resident mentioned the pharmaceuticals and guns that get sold at garage sales. Another worried about the potential security breach if the city’s database containing residents’ addresses and garage sale information was hacked (though the city’s databases have far more information on residents than any garage sale database would ever collect).

“I’ve lived in Palm coast for 19 years, I’ve lived in Flagler County for 21 years. I’ve never seen a problem on my street or in my neighborhood,” one resident told the council, saying, too, that she has no computer and could not track garage sales through the city’s website. “I live in the F Section, of people having too many garage sales—I’ve  never complained, I don’t see that as a big problem so I think it’s kind of overkill right now.”

Another F-Section resident said: “Whether or not someone has a few garage sales a year, that doesn’t concern me as much as what is happening to our homes, our homes are being broken into, they’re being vandalized, there’s mailboxes being knocked down almost every single day.”


(Allen C)
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24 Responses for “On Garage Sales, Palm Coast Rejects $5 Fee But Preserves Registration Requirement”

  1. Anonymous says:

    the Union of Socialist Palm Coast (USPC) has spoken.

  2. Adolf says:

    Welcome to the third or fourth REICH. We have courts to settle local disputes and don’t need the city to control every facet of our lives to strangle us like fascists.

  3. Yellowstone says:

    Times ain’t what they used be . . .

    What used to be ‘can I borrow this’ from your neighbor has now become, “go get it at thrift stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army, trade marts, bartering, and now garage sales. All are now now are a thing of the present. And if the ten-year economic trend continues, they will all continue to thrive and remain a major part of our future.

    Lesser economics for the middle and lower classes have enriched this activity. Why pay the retail store when you can swap something just as good with a friend? Forget all that stuff about ‘job creation’. We are talking survival here!

    Garage sales in Southern states is now a hot bed of sales. On a recent trip along the Natchez Trace there were literally miles and miles (one right after another) garage and yard sales. It has become a tourist, as a commerce, attraction.

    Flagler County ought to get over their upiitty attitudes, someone could turn this into a good thing. CLUE: Look north into Saint Johns and south into Volusia. Open your eyes. This is a big business.

    Get into the 21st century! This is a good thing . . .

  4. Jackie Roy Kunkel says:

    they need to stop charging pet owners $5-10 forcing registration of cats n dogs next. They wont even accept a 3 yr rabies vaccine, trying to make pet owners register every year with a new vaccine! And they only penalize the owners who have taken pets into vets, many people dont get stuck with this “fee”

  5. Sal Passalaqua says:

    So now we are back to no enforcement. This solves nothing, people don’t register now, what says they are going to change and do it now.There aren’t enough code enforcement to regulate the sales anyway. I supported Coucilman DeLorenzo stand. Plus it probably costs the owner more to put an ad in the Pennysaver, then the $5.00 they would pay for a permit and have it advertised on the City website. My issue is that it’s dangerous when these people just park where ever they want on the side of the road, making passing difficult and sometimes obstructing views.

    • Ben Dover says:

      Oh Sally , just take a chill pill and slow down when passing a garage sale , people don t want to sell their stuff, they are not doing it to take a trip to Europe , they are doing it to put food on the table . You take away their right to sell their own stuff on their own property, then we might as well just stop voting all together , let the rich and the powerful dictate everything we can or cannot do. If your not having garage sales then maybe your doing better then your neighbor, and if that`s the case , instead of complaining about them having to sell their stuff to eat , go over and ask if they need help setting up, buy something from them to help them out, then get down on your knees and thank God that your not in their position , that meals don t depend on your garage sale outcome.

  6. tulip says:

    They dropped the $5.00 fee, so all a person has to do is CALL or go ONLINE to get a permit, they don’t even have to got City Hall. I think it’s been a very fair decision.

  7. Clint says:

    Are the “Code Enforcers SS Squad” going to be driving around using up precious fuel payed for by the tax payer, asking us “Where are your papers”?

  8. Nancy N. says:

    What I really don’t get is why the council thinks that the people who are ignoring the two per year rule now are suddenly going to comply because they are required to “register”? They simply won’t register, and it will be just the same as before – with the neighbors having to rat them out to code enforcement.

    • Russell M. says:

      As the city councilman stated, the code enforcement is reactive and they currently have no documentation.
      If a person does not register their garage sale and the neighbor complains, the city can cite the offending garage sale when it reacts for not having registered their sale. I agree, it still comes down to a neighbor being required to submit a complaint, but at least the city will then have something to justify their citation.

  9. Dave Preat says:

    Garage sales have always been a thing of the past. Not until I moved to Palm Coast have i heard of such a stupid thing to charge people to hold one. I’m glad the commission wised up, with todays economy $5.00 is alot when usually items @ garage sales are priced so if cheap. People get a life, if you don’t know how to drive by now stay off the road. And don’t know you go and have a garage sale either.

  10. w.ryan says:

    Here we go again. Politicians circling their wagons to not look bad. I don’t fully blame them. Politics is a rough business and giving ammunition to the next potential opponent can come back to hurt. But reversing a decision once you realize you stepped in schist can be done gracefully. Once you realize what an error in judgement this was, owning up to it is valiant. Unfortunately this decision is about saving face and wasn’t a reversal and wasn’t graceful.

  11. patty says:

    Jeeeez! I dont want Government in my garage sale! What next? Will I have to register a cook out in my back yard cos there’s too much smoke? Garage sales are very Americana or didnt you know?
    As I said before, Get a life and use your time to do something constructive instead of being so petty.

    Rome is burning and these idiots are fiddling with this foolishness.

  12. Anonymous says:

    @tulip…..PEOPLE SHOULD NOT NEED A FREAKING PERMIT….you’re missing the point….it’s just like these stinking red light cameras…i got one two years ago,paid the ticket with money i didnt have now am finding out people are tossing them in the trash…i know people that got them a year and two years ago and tossed the worthless things in the garbage with no reprisal…IT’S A FREAKING SCAM FOLKS!!!!!…i won’t pay another one i assure you!

  13. Magnolia says:

    Stop it now, folks or it will get worse. During these times of economic hardship, the city has NO BUSINESS proposing things like this. If they do, then more city staff need to be cut.

    Or maybe it is time to let the Manager go? When does his contract run out? NEVER. The Manager has an open ended contract.

    We need to change our style of government here. They are into everything and improving NOTHING. If you reelected any of them it will only get worse.

    Tulip, It is a waste of taxpayer dollars, Tulip. Palm Coast HAS NO BUSINESS HERE because Palm Coast is so UNBUSINESS FRIENDLY.

    They denied a permit for a woman to bake brownies in her own kitchen for God’s sake! They were worried about traffic.

    BIG BROTHER needs to be fired, cut, unelected, whatever it takes.

    Nancy, do you get a reward for that?

  14. JP says:

    The problems in bad communities have been caused by the lack of control and regulations…..Palm Coast just did come up with so called crazy fees, regulations, and control! Communities in the past realized and learned the hard way…..people will do whatever they can get away with……stop landscaping, park broke down cars in the driveway, turn their home into a buisness, boats and trailer on the front lawn. If you want to live like animals, move to daytona. You idiots are killing people’s home values! You want to sell your crap…you get twice a year!

    • Bob St.Clair says:

      How do you kill peoples home values when they aren’t worth anything anyway, you people are rediculous this place is not shangri -la, it’s a decent town with little to no shopping, no real(or very few real restaurants) and it is boring as h***.
      And in this economy to take away a families ability to make a few bucks on a couple garage sales is assinine. We that don’t live in gated communities do so for a reason. To try and keep the political hacks out of our lives. WTFU

  15. Nero Fiddled..... says:

    This City should pay more attention to its swale conditions and stop woryying about some insignificant garage sale. Everyone of these Council members should be flushed out, I am really sick of them and this City entrenching themselves in on what goes on beyond the right away. Stay off my property and out of my life!!!

  16. Hill says:

    I have to laugh at how ridiculous this proposition is of regulating garage sales in Palm Coast, and having some type of database for this. Nosey neighbors need to mind their own business, and let people take care of their own families as they see fit. If that means having 7 garage sales in one year, then so be it. As far as the parking issues involved? Really? People park, get out of their cars to look at the stuff for sale, and either make their purchase and leave, or leave b/c there is nothing they want to purchase. We are talking a matter of 15-20 minutes. We have bigger fish to fry here in Palm Coast, like implementing a better county public transportation system, job creation, etc. Old people who are bored & want to make complaints to code enforcement should find a senior group to get involved with, or go golf more.

  17. agnese says:

    Has “Big Brother” nothing else to do today ?

  18. ryan says:

    Sounds like people like JP need to find a real cause. I have dealt with a holes like him in the past who walk around with a pen and pad, and all this does is give some many of the jerks and people with attitude problems to feel empowered. If drinking a Gatorade in the front yard was against code, someone would take an Iphone picture of it in order to get someone fined. I hope it doesn’t come down to not cracking down on crime in order to make people have to have something with substance to bitch about? If you are going to act like an ass, don’t move here. we have enough of that to last us into the next century. Remember these people are the same ones who act irritated when you introduce yourself as the new neighbor when moving into a new neighborhood.

  19. Bob St.Clair says:

    How about fixing the lake…I mean parking lot at the high school, instead of regulating garage sales. And stop spending my tax dollsrs on marble and concrete signs at every entrance to every neighborhood in town
    . Do the elected officials think we’re going to forget what town or neighborhood we live in.

  20. chris janota says:

    A good way to manage the garage sale chaos that occurs in may cities is to offer one city wide garage sale where participants can register their sale for a small fee and they will appear on the map. The city sale occurs just once per year and the signage is reduced and organized because all participating residents appear on the map. Our city used a service called Prime Garage Sales to help us organize our event.

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