City seeks a new kind of garage sale signSince city officials began enforcing the city code prohibiting garage sale signs in the boulevards two years ago, residents have gotten creative with their sign placement.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Since city officials began enforcing the city code prohibiting garage sale signs in the boulevards two years ago, residents have gotten creative with their sign placement.
Toward the end of any given week in the summer, colorful posterboard-sized signs begin appearing in the front, back and/or side windows of random vehicles parked on the main streets and intersections of town.
“In my opinion, it looks tacky and they can be a traffic hazard,” City Planning and Zoning Administrator Al Cottingham said of the gaudy signs dotted around town. However, such signs don’t appear to violate City Code, although police can remove any they feel pose a genuine traffic hazard.
Signs are still allowed in yards, although residents must get permission from the property owner to post signs in any yard they don’t own.
“We’d rather see people putting signs in yards [than vehicle windows], as long as they get the property owner’s permission, place them five feet back from the road and remove them when they’re done,” Cottingham said. “People need to make sure their signs aren’t blocking traffic visibility.”
Deputy Police Chief Terry Hill explained that the code enforcement efforts began because the two popular sign corners were a hazard.
“You would have people stopping in the middle of the street to take down numbers,” he said. “It was a mess.”
According to Section 7.4 of the Cloquet City Code, any kind of signs — including for garage sales and political candidates — are forbidden on city property, any kind of utility poles and in the boulevards and alleyways. The exact ordinance reads as follows: “It shall be unlawful for any person to nail, paste, glue or in any manner affix or fasten any bill, card, advertisement, poster, picture, printed, illustrated or written matter, or painted sign of any description upon any lamp post, mast, electric wire post, telegraph or telephone pole or any pole or post in any street boulevard or public alley of the City, with or without the permission of the owner thereof. It shall be unlawful for any owner of any mast, electric wire pole, telegraph or telephone pole, or post, in any street, boulevard or public alley of the City, to grant permission to any person to do any of the aforesaid prohibited acts. It shall be unlawful for any person in any manner nail, paste, glue or fasten any bill, card, advertisement, poster, picture, printed or illustrated matter, or painted sign of any description upon any fence, building or structure or any part thereof, not owned or controlled by the person, without first obtaining the permission of the owner thereof.
Violation of the code is considered a petty misdemeanor; however, Hill said police don’t spend a lot of time enforcing the sign prohibition. He pointed to department efforts to proactively direct residents to the many online sites that list garage sales as well as other advertising venues, including radio and the newspaper.
To a degree, that has worked. But most people want to make sure they also get drive-by traffic, so they put signs on the main streets of town to try to lure people to their weekend sale.
Cottingham said he has had some discussions with the city’s streets and parks supervisor about creating a community bulletin board — possibly adjacent to the city-owned parking lot near U.S. Bank — where people could post their garage sale notices for free. It would provide a similar, one-stop experience for garage-sale shoppers, giving them one location to find numerous listings.