Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Tweak rules to better serve city residents

By the Advocate Editorial Board
May 13, 2013 at 12:13 a.m.

Garage sale shoppers love to get up early Saturday after they have created a strategy and mapped out their route days ahead of time. The Victoria Advocate has even created a smartphone app called Crossroads Treasures to help shoppers locate sales. But for the shoppers who prefer the old-fashioned method, do not have a smartphone or to interested passers-by, small signs at critical intersections can point them to their next big find.

Unfortunately for shoppers and sellers, the city of Victoria has a temporary sign ordinance that has been enforced recently. At the Advocate, we have received multiple complaints about garage sale signs being removed from intersections on the days the sales were held. Reporter Melissa Crowe looked into these reports and learned this was due to an ordinance created in 2004 that limits the placement of temporary signs on public property, including utility poles and the right of way.

It seems strange to us that the city would create this ordinance and wait almost 10 years to begin enforcing it. After all this time of being allowed to place small signs advertising their sales, this sudden push for enforcement comes as an unpleasant surprise. The majority of these garage sales are held in residential areas out of sight of the main roads. Before, sellers would place a small sign out on the day of the sale to attract customers and then remove the sign when the sale was finished. Now, the city has a member of its staff drive around and remove these signs, which makes it harder for shoppers to find sales around town.

This fixation on removing these small signs seems like a waste of the city's resources. It would be a much better use of the city's time and resources to allow these signs Saturday and then remove those that were not picked up by Monday. If the city must have an employee working Saturday, we would suggest a focus on removing trash and litter in order to keep our city beautiful instead of punishing responsible citizens who want to make a little extra money.

We acknowledge this is an ordinance, but the decision to suddenly begin such strict enforcement after letting this slide for so long is confusing. This is one scenario in which a strict, legalistic approach to rules is actually hurting responsible citizens.

We encourage the city to re-examine this ordinance and find a way to work with residents who are holding garage sales. Residents must pay a $10 fee for a permit, so why not offer the right to place a certain number of signs on the day of the sale as part of that process? The ordinance could include consequences for those who do not remove their signs before Monday, which would allow responsible citizens to attract customers and fine those who do not follow the rules.

With a little adjustment and cooperation, this ordinance can fulfill the true purpose of government - to serve the needs of citizens.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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