Steve Hansen: Yard sale issue should be settled by the people

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Federal overreach occurs when the federal government tries to regulate areas that should be controlled by state and local governments.

These days, however, people tend to think of even local ordinances that they disagree with as part of a Big Government conspiracy to control our lives. They feel that even on a local issue they are powerless victims of big interests.

Lately in Tucumcari, there has been a groundswell of opposition to a proposed ordinance that would require residents to obtain a permit (free of charge) to hold a garage sale and limit the number of garage sales allowed per household per year.

Agree or disagree, the ordinance has been proposed in the proper place for a local issue, the local government.

Opponents of this ordinance are outraged that they might need permission to use a common and often fun way to get rid of stuff they don’t want or need any more.

Many in the opposition, however, are lumping this ordinance with Big Government conspiracies.

Tucumcari’s City Commission is not Big Government, nor is the city’s administration. This is a local matter that local people are empowered to address.

For this reason, I am hoping to see a well-attended public hearing with representation from all sides of this issue when it comes up for public hearing.

The matter will not be on the agenda at Thursday’s meeting. The commission had to delay the hearing to meet advertising and notification requirements, City Manager Jared Langenegger said.

Now, it would not be fair to address one side of this issue and not the other. City officials proposed this ordinance as a means of controlling too-frequent “garage sales” that are actually unlicensed, untaxed businesses.

Some I have talked to in the opposition acknowledge this situation but think there should be another way to deal with businesses disguised as garage sales.

I hope I have given both pro and con on this issue equal treatment, but my main point is that this is a local issue that is being handled locally.

That means that local citizens in favor of this proposed ordinance or opposed to it have a right, if not a duty, to speak their piece, and all will be heard.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

stevenmhansen@plateautel.net

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