AMERICAN FORK — Gone are the days of duct-taped signs on every corner, leading eager bargain hunters through a maze of neighborhood streets to the many local yard sales. This Saturday morning ritual has now received a few guidelines, at least in several Utah Valley cities.

American Fork's City Council recently adopted a yard sale ordinance to help with the aesthetics of the city and prevent yard sales from becoming a year-round business.

"The reason we adopted a yard sale ordinance was to cut down on perpetual yard sales," council member Heidi Rodeback said. "The feeling of the council was that operating a perpetual yard sale is a sneaky way of getting around a business license."

The ordinance limits the number of signs placed in public view to four and requires the signs to be removed 12 hours after the sale. The city will allow yard sales to be held only twice a year at the same residence and prohibits yard sales from including new or used merchandise bought for the purpose of being re-sold.

Penalties for not complying with the ordinance could go up to a Class B misdemeanor for multiple offenses. While the city wanted to send a message that these types of yard sale practices were not acceptable in the community, they don't want to discourage people from holding yard sales.

"I am a big yard seller myself and I considered that my mission to make sure that it did not shut down the healthy yard sales," said Rodeback. "They are a ritual part of spring cleaning, and I feel they are also community-building opportunities by getting to know more about your neighbors."

Several neighboring cities have similar types of ordinances controlling yard sale practices.

Pleasant Grove limits the number of yard sales at a residence to not take place more that five times in a calendar year, and sign permits must be obtained from the city's community development department.

Cedar Hills allows signs to be placed on private property with approval from property owner and each sign requires a $1 permit that can be purchased from the city. Alpine perhaps is the hardest on signs, prohibiting all off-premise garage sale signs.

"I believe the intent is to minimize as much blight as possible and to keep with the aesthetic of not having signs everywhere around the city," said Alpine city planner April Riley.

Nola Adams, a Pleasant Grove resident who is planning a yard sale in American Fork along with four other families, thinks it is important to keep an eye these issues.

"I think it is a pretty good idea to keep a little regulation on all the yard sales," she said. "I know I see people that are doing them all the time."

Adams says that yard sales are great for her to help spruce up the house in the springtime without filling the dump with things that may be used by someone else.

As far as publicity goes, Adams does all of her postings online.

"As a person who goes to yard sales regularly, it is upsetting for me to see some signs that are still up from last fall," she said. "I do my postings online because it is fast and easy."


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