City officials are considering going permit-free for garage sales.
If the City Council approves the change, possibly in November, the city will conduct a one-year trial of not requiring residents to get a permit to host a garage sale. The current ordinance, which requires a permit, has been in place for 40 years.
In the end, the permit serves no purpose and has become a symbolic gesture, said Dana Burghdoff, Fort Worth’s assistant director of planning.
It doesn’t cost to get a permit, so there’s no revenue loss to the city, she said.
In 2017, the city issued 16,113 garage sale permits, Burghdoff told the City Council’s Housing and Neighborhood Services Committee on Tuesday.
Of those, 75 percent are done when residents call in, which has become a drain on staff’s time, she said. Because of high call volumes, some residents have waited as long as 30 minutes to get that permit.
The remaining 25 percent obtain their permits online, but there’s no way of knowing how many people don’t even get a permit, she said.
The full council will hear the proposal in a couple of weeks before making a decision.
Councilwoman Kelly Allen Gray said the proposal deserves a look, particularly when the development department is understaffed and not meeting goals to issue building permits.
“It’s very concerning that we are having issues getting developers and projects through development,” Gray said. “We have an opportunity to say maybe this is not a major kind of issue with garage sales, that we should be focusing more on making sure we’re getting permits through, those things that are moving our city forward.”
When the city receives a complaint about a garage sale, Code Compliance looks into the complaint whether there’s a permit or not, Burghdoff said.
Code Compliance responded to 174 garage sale complaints this year, with the majority of them being the person is holding too many, she said.
“The calls to code aren’t typically from someone asking whether there’s a permit; it’s because they view that sale weekend after weekend or they see the materials being sold are not appropriate,” Burghdoff said.
Residents will still be required to follow the rules spelled out in the ordinance, which was adopted to make sure residents don’t start running businesses from their yard.
Among those, citizens are not allowed to have more than two sales on the same premises in any one calendar year, that the sale has to be in the garage or patio area, and, no new merchandise can be resold at the sale.
If people really want a permit, Burghdoff said, city staff will direct them to the city’s website to do so online.
Locally, Dallas, Irving, Grand Prairie and Plano require permits, while Arlington, Keller and Southlake do not.