On Tuesday, the Antioch City Council agreed to introduce a new ordinance in the Antioch City Municipal Code regarding donation bins and garage sales.
Under the Ordinance, the city hoped to eradicate blight conditions through code enforcement and blight abatement.
According to the updated ordinance on donation bins, it would now require an Administrative Use Permit in the commercial zones where permitted. The City Municipal Code also addressed garage sales which was omitted as part of a broader update to the Title 3 Code which resulted in the City of Antioch not having any regulations or definitions specifically addressing garage sales—the definition was defined to allow for no more than three consecutive days and no more than four times in a calendar year.
Councilman Tony Tiscareno highlighted the recombination was good because the city gets a lot of complaints and they want to begin enforcing donation bins and garage sales while noting these are good things to help enforce them.
Forrest Ebbs, Community Development Director, noted that they first had to define the definition before they could begin enforcing—noting that once people are notified, they will change their habits for the most part.
Councilwoman Monica Wilson wanted to address the donation bins and wanted the city to be strict on them.
“What gets me the most is the upkeep because we see these bins, they are blighted… and it ends up the city is the one who goes and cleans it up, not the provider of the bins,” explained Wilson. “I’d like to see something more stricter in regards to that and something where there is a fine for these companies that come in and drop these bins off and wipe their hands of it. I’d like to see something very strong.”
Wilson added this has been an ongoing issue for years and urged city staff to begin cracking down on them. She encouraged the city to insert a fine every time the city had to clean the blighted area around the bins.
Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe clarified that the ordinance tonight would begin the process to allow the city the opportunity to fine people for violations of the ordinance. City Staff explained they could fine someone for violating their Conditional Use Permit which they now would have to apply for before a garage sale or placement of a donation bin.
Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock questioned the permit process because people who own the bins come in and get paid by the property they are sitting on. She asked how they would know to get a permit.
“I don’t think we are being strict enough on these, I think that this is a good start,” said Ogorchock. “This has been councilwoman Wilson’s thing for three years we have been trying to get this going. They are just a blight, eye-sores, people are always digging in them and throwing clothes everywhere.”
When it came to garage sales, Ogorchock explained how the city ordinance used to allow residence just two garage sales per year—she thought four was too many, she suggested they go back to two.
“I think we need to permit to enforce,” said Ogorhock. “We need to have to enforce this, if people need to come down to city hall and apply for a permit. Then if I call in and say a person is having another garage sale, you can go back to the permit to double check.”
She said a permit process would cut down on staff time and enforcement time because record keeping would be improved and the city would know who is having more than four garage sales per year.
Thorpe highlighted that if they moved forward with this tonight, that they were giving code enforcement the tools to enforce the ordinances and a fee structure (citations) already previously approved.
“I don’t think its weak, I think we are just giving you the tools you need,” stated Thorpe. “If we can hold some folks accountable, I am all for it.”
Ogorchock question city staff about permits on the donation bins and how they were going to get them because they were all on private property. Ebbs explained the same way an illegal sign was placed—after a complaint.
“So is someone going to go around looking for these things or is it going to be done by us sharing that they are there??” asked Ogorchock.
Ebbs explained code enforcement is already doing the work and that if they see one, they will send a letter out and it needs to be removed in 10-days—then they begin situation process.
Ogorchock then questioned staff on permits for garage sales and how they would keep track. She urged the council and staff assure these would be tracked.
“People that want to have a garage sale, people need to get a permit,” stated Ogorchock. “How are you going to know the numbers of permits if we allowing them four, how are we going to know they did four if they didn’t have a permit.
Ebbs replied they wouldn’t know except by complaint.
Ebbs then compared it to fences highlighting they don’t require a permit to replace a fence, but if they see it or a complaint is made they will address it. Ebbs suggested they could create a self-registration process to create a registration—requiring people register to have a valid garage sale.
Thorpe argued that the city should not be punishing the entire city by becoming more burdensome for a few bad apples who can’t follow the rules.
“You are going to know who the chronic violators are for garage sale policy without needing a registration or having the need to register or permit people,” stated Thorpe.
The council discussed amending the ordinance to include some of Councilwoman Ogorchocks suggestions, however, it was determined staff would be implementing some of the suggestions and didn’t need it written into the ordinance.
The council opted to allow residents to continue to have four garage sales per year. The council approved the ordinance 4-0.
Mayor Sean Weright was absent from the meeting.