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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Valley quells perpetual yard sales

Neighbors who hold never-ending yard sales in Spokane Valley will have to stow their junk or risk a $250 fine.

On Tuesday, the city council passed an ordinance that limits yard sales and gives code enforcement officers leverage to deal with the chronic junk piles that some people claim they’re amassing for yard sales.

The ordinance outlaws yard, estate, moving and other sales that last more than seven consecutive days or run more than two consecutive weekends. Council members voted to strike wording that included sales happening more than three times a year.

“Who’s going to keep count?” said Councilman Richard Munson, who thought the wording encouraged discord between neighbors.

“If someone is selling for more than seven consecutive days, they are running a business out of their front yard,” Councilman Mike Flanigan added.

The council also passed an ordinance requiring pawn shops to cooperate with law enforcement to help reduce the amount of stolen property that is fenced.

Speaking on behalf of the pawn-shop ordinance, Spokane Valley Police Chief Cal Walker said it would help police track stolen goods and save money for pawn shop owners who unsuspectingly buy goods they believe are safe to resell.

Similar to a law adopted by Spokane County over 30 years ago, it requires pawn shops to maintain thorough records of each loan, purchase or sale. Those records must be electronically submitted to the police department.

Other regulations include obtaining a copy of valid identification and taking digital photos of people selling merchandise. Those photos provide an alternate way to identify thieves using stolen ID.

Shops will be licensed through Spokane Valley Police Department and must comply with police inspections.

Pawn brokers can’t sell anything until a 90-day holding period is completed. Failing to follow procedure is a misdemeanor.

Walker said his department will provide training for shop employees and give stores 30 days to meet the new standards.

In other action, the city council created a position for a public information officer, with Flanigan alone in opposition.

Council members said working part time as legislators has become full-time work because they serve on numerous committees and struggle to return citizen calls and e-mails.

Dick Denenny said getting information out to citizens is difficult and the information officer would help. Others expressed a desire to have the city release concise information.

Several citizens criticized creating the position, which will pay $40,296 to $51,660 annually.

Touting the value of the media in providing information for taxpayers, citizen Bill Gothmann expressed concern that hiring the wrong person could result in less than full disclosure and limited access to information.

“I want to make sure they are an aid and not a hindrance,” said Gothmann, adding that hiring a public relations person was actually bad PR for the city.

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