Yard sale signs are beginning to pop up on Mid-Columbia street corners like dandelions after a soaking rain.
Lots of people seem to have spring cleaning on their minds.
Before you try to sell your unwanted furniture, clothes, toys, sports equipment and other items, make sure you know your city's rules.
Calls about yard sales always begin picking up this time of year, said Andrea Palmquist in Richland's business licensing department. People want to know: Do we need a permit? Where can we put signs? How long can we hold a sale?
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Some cities regulate how many sales can be held in a year. A few also limit the number of days you can hold a yard sale. And a few require sellers to apply for a permit.
The municipal codes governing yard sales vary, though almost every city prohibits posting signs advertising them on traffic signs and metal light and wooden utility poles.
"The people who climb the wood poles don't like to run into staples, especially the ones with broken and sharp ends," said Mike Stevens, senior planner for West Richland.
To attract passersby, some use sandwich board signs. Others get creative with boxes weighted with rocks and attach a brightly colored sign on one side to point the way to the bargains.
The problem with using boxes is people seldom go back and pick them up, officials say.
"If we get a bad wind storm, they end up in the middle of the street, making a mess and therein lies the problem," said Palmquist.
Whatever signs you use to advertise your sale, "please be a good neighbor and remove them immediately after the sale," said Evelyn Lusignan, public relations and customer service manager for Kennewick.
Also, be aware of where you're placing your signs. Don't place them where they'd be a traffic hazard for either drivers or people walking.
In addition to posting signs, several officials recommended placing an advertisement in the newspaper.
"An ad in the newspaper makes it easy for people to find you. They don't have to drive around and try and spot signs," said Marissa Canales, accounting clerk for the city of Connell.
To make it easy, the Tri-City Herald has a special "yard sale success kit." For $19 you get four yard sale signs, a five-line classified ad for two days and pricing stickers. Call 585-7355 for more information.
Here's a roundup of requirements to have a successful yard sale, city by city:
Doesn't require a permit but does limit yard/garage sales to five consecutive days and not more than two per calendar year.
If it rains or blows the day of the sale, even if you've advertised it, if you don't set up, it doesn't count as one of your two days, Lusignan said.
"Also, all the items must be used. You can't use a yard sale to market Mary Kay products or Tupperware," Lusignan said.
Doesn't require a permit or license. A sale can run one to two days and you can have several a year.
"The idea is it's not to become a business or impair the value of a residential area or traffic. If you were having one every other weekend, the city would have to put a stop to that," Palmquist said.
Requires an application be made 24 hours in advance of the sale. Application forms are available at the city's finance office in city hall or online at www.pasco-wa.gov. Search for yard sales. There is no charge.
Homeowners are limited to two yard sales per year and they can run no more than two days.
Yard sale signs may be displayed 24 hours prior to the sale and removed within 24 hours afterward.
Only four signs are allowed and they are limited to 2 square feet per sign.
The city doesn't require permits and has no restrictions on the number of sales a homeowner can have.
But it does regulate signs.
Only two movable signs are allowed per sale event. They can't be more than 6 square feet per sign or, if you opt for signs on sticks, they can't exceed 4 square feet per sign.
Signs can be placed on the city's right of way, or on private property, with permission from the homeowner.
"The sale can not be advertised more than three days," Stevens said.
Doesn't require permits.
People usually post their signs the day before a sale. Light poles are OK, said Marissa Canales, accounting clerk for the city.
She recommends posting information about the sale on the community bulletin board outside the post office.
Requires applying for a free permit and posting it at the site of the sale.
Homeowners are allowed to have up to 12 yard sales in a year but they must be separated by 14 days and last no longer than three days, said Stephanie Haug, city clerk/treasurer for the city.
On June 14, the Benton City Chamber of Commerce will hold a citywide yard sale. To sign up, check the chamber's website, www.bentoncitychamber.org, and click on "event vendor application."
Or, pick one up at the chamber office, 513 Ninth St.
The city charges a $2 fee per yard sale and requires homeowners fill out a permit either at city hall or on the city's website, www.cityofprosser.com, under forms and publications.
Yard sales are limited to two per year and can be no longer than three consecutive days.
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; email@example.com