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Garage sale signs still a council issue

The Dalles attorney Gene Parker said regulation of yard and garage sale signs has not yielded the desired results this summer but he is optimistic that time will bring a culture change.

Parker said signs are being removed regularly on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings if they are affixed to boxes that are set on street corners or posted on utility poles and stop signs. Warning letters are then being sent to the people who put up these signs and they could face a fine of up to $500 if their actions continue.

After weeks of having Code Enforcement Officer Nikki Lesich at work on the issue, Parker said more people are starting to use the community signboards at St. Vincent de Paul, The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce and Mid-Columbia Senior Center. “I think it’s taking some time to get across to people that there is an alternative,” he said. “They just want to have their sale and we understand that. They just need to do it the right way and everything will be fine.”

Parker said the primary problem areas have been 10th and Trevitt streets, Third and Trevitt, and Third Place and Sixth Street. At times, dozens of cardboard boxes with attached signs have been left at these intersections.

A new trend that seems to have developed in response to increased enforcement is that people place signs in or on vehicles parked at these locations. Parker said that is also a violation of the city code.

“We’ll have to keep monitoring to see whether that becomes a problem or not,” he said. “If we start to get complaints, I guess we’ll have to do something about it.”

He said signs are allowed to be posted on private property in addition to the community boards.

The issue of yard sale signs being unsightly and often left as litter was raised by former Mayor Jim Wilcox, a real estate broker who pushed for more stringent regulation. He believed having signs cluttering street corners was unattractive enough to be a deterrent to economic development. He also said these signs were frequently left out after the yard sale was over to become trash.

Wilcox failed to rally support among other councilors to put more restrictive regulations in the sign code. However, the city’s land use ordinance dictates that yard sale signs only be erected on the property where a sale is taking place.

Parker said that provision has led to a stepped up enforcement program this summer. He said one couple was fined an amount of money he did not disclose for tacking signs up on utility poles seven or eight times despite repeated warnings.

“It was a number that I felt was a little flagrant,” he said.

Parker said the couple was found not guilty of the violation by Municipal Judge Tom Peachey because there was no proof they had put up the signs.

That is the only case to arise so far out of the increased enforcement actions, he said, and only time will tell if the new rules change the behavior of many residents.

Councilor Tim McGlothlin suggested at the July 22 meeting that it was time to remind area residents about the presence of the signboards, and ask that they be responsible and not litter.

“We’re asking for all citizens to help us keep our city beautiful. It’s just too great of a place to trash,” he said.

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