Q: It seems like my neighbors are having garage/yard sales every other weekend. It attracts a lot of people as we are located on a busy corner. Oftentimes it backs up and impedes traffic. Is that legal?

A: That’s a good question. Garage/yard sales are legal, however, the city limits the amount any individual can have in the span of a year. Every Santa Monica resident is permitted to have two garage/yard sales every calendar year, but if the building has multiple units, there could be far more than two per property. For example, in an apartment complex with 12 units and each unit is occupied by one tenant, that building is allowed to have 24 garage/yard sales per year. So, in answer to your question, if each tenant uses their allotted number of garage/yard sales per year (2) then they could legally have one every other week.

However, there are restrictions when having a garage/yard sale. The items being sold must be on private property, meaning the sidewalk, city greenbelt (the grassy area located between the sidewalk and street) or any other city property may not be used to display items. Also, the person having the sale needs to monitor customer traffic and make sure shoppers are not impeding pedestrians’ use of the sidewalk. Pedestrians should not have to walk out into the street to get by.

Some additional safety issues that present themselves as a result of garage/yard sales occur when people driving by become distracted and focus their attention on the sale. In turn, the driver can impede traffic, and/or continue driving while not paying attention to the road in front of them. Taking one’s eyes off the road for any amount of time is unsafe and could potentially result in an accident.

So, garage/yard sale shoppers that want to check it out should find a safe/legal place to park and walk over. People will often park in a red zone, double-park or block someone’s driveway to quickly take a look at the garage/yard sale. This can be very frustrating for residents and others in the area, not to mention the possibility of getting a parking ticket for illegally parking your vehicle. So remember when shopping at garage/yard sales, be neighborly and safe while doing so!

Q: I really enjoyed the information about the SWAT officers in a recent article. Are these the same officers that wear the tan and green uniforms I see Downtown and in the parks?

No. The Santa Monica Police personnel who wear tan shirts with green pants are park rangers, Animal Control officers, Downtown service officers or community service officers. It can be confusing as they do carry some of the same equipment that police officers carry such as a police radio and pepper spray; however, they do not carry a firearm.

Although they are not police officers, they also respond to radio calls related to their duties and sometimes work directly with police officers.

• Park rangers spend a lot of time patrolling the different parks in the city. They make sure the residents can enjoy the parks by enforcing park rules and regulations, such as prohibitions against smoking, camping, littering and drinking. Most of the violations observed are corrected with a warning by advising the person, but if warranted, sometimes a police officer will respond and a citation will be issued.

• Downtown service officers can be seen on the Third Street Promenade patrolling on foot and/or bikes. They help monitor the performers and enforce ordinances that pertain to the promenade and parking structures, such as smoking, leaving property unattended over a certain period of time, loitering in a parking structure and they also respond to reports of suspicious activity in Downtown.

• Community service officers respond to traffic collisions, hit and runs, as well as other report calls where the suspect is not present.

• Animal control officers respond to and investigate calls such as reports of animal bites and enforce municipal codes involving animals. They also pick up stray animals and take them to the shelter and care for them while they are there.

Those officers are not armed. They represent the police department and are very knowledgeable in their particular field. It is important to be able to distinguish them from police officers and know how they can assist you.

This column was prepared by NRO Marilyn Amiache (Beat 2: Lincoln Boulevard to Ocean Front Walk, Interstate 10 to Ozone Avenue). She can be reached at (424) 200-0682 or marilyn.amiache@smgov.net.

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