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Plan for yard sale days crosses line

The Hernando County Board of Commissioners was on target when it decided something needed to be done to rein in the people who selfishly disrupt their neighborhoods by holding perpetual yard sales.

Their proposal to limit to two the number of yard sales a resident could have each year was reasonable and would not have adversely affected the majority of people who use yard sales for the ordinary purpose of ridding their homes of unwanted items.

That idea met with opposition from people who did not want to obtain a permit from the county and who philosophically challenged the government's authority to put limits on what they see as a free enterprise undertaking.

But instead of simply making a decision to pursue or drop the issue based on those fundamental arguments, the commission now has come up with a proposal even more invasive than the initial plan. Moreover, the plan, as tentatively proposed, is likely to create overwhelming traffic problems.

The commissioners have asked the county Code Enforcement Department to draft an ordinance that would force everyone in the county to hold their yard sales on the same days, but still only twice a year. That way, the commissioners reason, it would be easy to spot and fine anyone who violated the law.

Imagine the circus atmosphere that would exist in the county if such an ordinance were in place. Traffic tie-ups from cars entering and exiting driveways and side streets would be a safety hazard. The more zealous yard sale aficionados would be in a virtual frenzy to get from one place to the next to survey the wares and score a bargain. Pity the unfortunate souls who might get in their way.

Also, if the county did specify such dates, people from nearby counties would get the word and likely descend on Hernando like a stampeding herd of treasure hunters.

What of the people who would not be accommodated by the designated days of the yard sales? A person who sold his house in April and wanted to get rid of some unwanted items before moving would not be able to have a yard sale if the next sanctioned yard sale day was in July, for instance.

And heaven help us all if it happened to rain on the authorized yard sale day. The disappointment would be equaled only by the confusion.

The people of Hernando County should not allow this to be turned into an unmanageable, bureaucratic boondoggle. Clearly, there is a need to stop people from using their yards as a commercial business venture.

But that attempt at regulation should not prevent the majority of others, who are more considerate of their neighbors, from being able to choose when they want to have an occasional yard sale.

This newspaper endorsed the commission's first plan to limit yard sales, but we withdraw that support if it means arbitrarily consecrating the calendar for two chaotic weekends a year.

Perhaps the commission should leave well enough alone and allow the people who are unhappy with the frequency of their neighbors' front yard commerce to try to work it out among themselves. That couldn't be any more meddlesome than the commission's current proposal.