Proposed garage sale policy revised with $10 fee

The revised ordinance is a change from an earlier recommendation, which didn't include a permit fee

  • Arlington City Hall (Zack Maxwell / Arlington Voice)
David Dunn

After being previously rejected by the majority in attendance at a Town Hall meeting in July, the garage sale ordinance being considered by the Arlington City Council has come back with a new revision: a $10 charge fee.

First proposed as a no-cost permit that would limit holders to two garage sales a year, the new ordinance, at the recommendation of a council sub-committee, now has a $10 fee attached to the permit.

The garage sale ordinance was created in response to public complaints on persistent garage sales being held in the city -- sometimes on a weekly basis.

At-large Councilmember Michael Glaspie said the main concerns stemming from these sales are congestion and impact of quality of life on residents.

“It turns out we have very little in the way of regulations for garage sales,” Glaspie said at an Aug. 22 council meeting. “After a fairly lengthy discussion of what we might be able to do, the committee concluded that we should make these recommendations to the council.”

One of those recommendations is to charge residents a $10 fee for a permit, which contradicts an earlier statement from the City’s code enforcement manager who said there would be no fee.

District 2 Councilmember Sheri Capehart said the charge is in-line with the permit fees in surrounding cities.

While 11 surrounding cities, such as Dallas and Fort Worth, do require permits, only Bedford, Kennedale and Forest Hill have a $10 fee associated with them, according to a City of Arlington survey on neighboring cities. North Richland Hills, Haltom City and Mansfield all have a fee less than $10. Dallas has a $25 fee, but only for the second garage sale.

At the July Town Hall meeting, 19 residents spoke against the ordinance, while eight supported it. Some of the concerns addressed were code compliance officers coming on the property to inspect the sale, the restriction of food or drink item sales, and the council’s overreach into individual liberties.

While not having an opinion on the addition of the $10 fee itself, East Arlington resident Sue Phillips said she does support some form of regulation.

Phillips, who is president of the East Arlington Renewal Association, recalled how some garage sales would be hosted Thursday through Sunday during some weekends. Because those sales are operating for more than three days at a time, they should be susceptible to sales tax, she said.

“When you’re running an unregulated store and you’re not paying any kind of tax on that store, you’re undermining the businesses that pay the price to run a business,” Phillips said. “That’s not good for our business community, and it’s very damaging to our neighborhoods.”

However, Andy Prior, a member of the advocacy group Citizens for a Better Arlington, said he and his fellow members were disappointed with the recommendations, going as far as to call them “horrendous.” Prior said they felt a lot of the concerns voiced at the Town Hall were not being properly addressed in the new ordinance.

“We find this to be yet another example of the Arlington City Council’s insatiable desire to intrude on every aspect of local residents’ lives,” Prior said. “We’re all busy just trying to live our lives, and we’re sick and tired of this continued insanity.”

Prior said his group will be voicing their opinions at future city council meetings where the ordinance is brought up without additional modification.

Capehart said that while some may think unregulated garage sales are just an issue with one part of Arlington, she insists that it’s a growing problem all throughout the city.

“I think it’ll go a long way towards supporting our neighborhoods and trying to keep down the people who take advantage of the fact that we haven’t had any standards in place,” Capehart said.

The revised ordinance was presented to the City Council at Tuesday’s afternoon session. The city council representatives did not respond about the addition of the $10 fee by press time.