Tonasket works to contain yard sales

Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb and Councilman Dennis Brown are proud of Tonasket's status as a Tree City USA, as recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation

Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb and Councilman Dennis Brown are proud of Tonasket’s status as a Tree City USA, as recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation

TONASKET – Yard sale season is beginning in Tonasket, and with it complaints of traffic and congestion in residential areas.

The City Council has been mulling an ordinance to limit the number of yard sales permitted in the city. However, after plenty of discussion at the Tuesday, April 23, council meeting, it was clear that the council was undecided on exactly how to move forward.

At issue was how to define what constituted a yard sale.

In recognition of Arbor Day, (l-r) Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb, Bob Twigg and Tonasket city council member Dennis Brown planted several trees at Chief Tonasket Park between the soccer fields and baseball diamonds in the southern portion of the park. The trees were donated by Baker's Acres.  Plumb and Brown strike a pose in front of Tonasket's "Tree City USA" sign that hung in the park in honor of Arbor Day. Brent Baker/staff photo

In recognition of Arbor Day, (l-r) Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb, Bob Twigg and Tonasket city council member Dennis Brown planted several trees at Chief Tonasket Park between the soccer fields and baseball diamonds in the southern portion of the park. The trees were donated by Baker’s Acres.
Plumb and Brown strike a pose in front of Tonasket’s “Tree City USA” sign that hung in the park in honor of Arbor Day. Brent Baker/staff photo

The proposed ordinance defined a yard sale as a yard, patio, garage, rummage or similar type of sale by an individual or group for profit. The ordinance would limit such sales to three per calendar year with a maximum length of four consecutive days, to be held no fewer than 30 days apart.

What was unclear was whether or not it would also apply to business properties.

“I need the clarification,” said council member Scott Olson. “There is the weekly yard sale at Sarge’s (the closed restaurant that also serves as the food bank on the north end of town). Does this not apply because he’d a business?”

“He does have a business license,” said Mayor Patrick Plumb. “Note that (being a yard sale) doesn’t exempt them from collecting sales tax.”

Noting the extreme rarity of anyone collecting sales tax at yard sales, Olson said he didn’t want to use whether or not someone licensed to collect sales tax, whether they did so or not, as a litmus test for whether or not their business activity could be considered a yard sale.

“If we do that, that means that if it’s illegal, we’re calling it a yard sale,” he said. “I just want it to be clear what is a yard sale and why. I think of it as residential places.”

Olson added that when he has received complaints about yard sales, it has been about traffic and congestion in residential areas.

“The definition should be ‘residential,’” said council member Lee Hale. “The main problem is with some in residential areas making it into a business. But in town that’s different.”

Council member Jean Ramsey, saying it was past time something was done, added that a number of people come from out of town to hold yard sales in town. Signs left up after the yard sale was over have also been an issue as they quickly turn into litter.

“If Sarge is holding a yard sale (on the restaurant’s own property) that’s different,” she said. “But someone else using it over and over is a problem… After a set number of times it becomes a business and revenue is not being collected.”

“I struggle with this issue,” Olson said. “I hear what you’re saying. But I want to respect property owner’s rights and that includes business owners with business property… But when I drive by (Sarge’s) it looks like a yard sale to me. Are we protecting residential areas with this or do we have something against this type of sale?”

Looking after Zeus

Noni Alley recently read a a story in “Chicken Soup for the Pre-Teen Soul” about a police dog that had been shot.

Thanks to that story, the 12-year-old Tonasket girl said, she was inspired to begin raising funds for a bulletproof vest to protect Zeus the Tonasket Police Department’s narcotics dog.

She asked the City Council for permission to raise the approximately $600 it will cost for Zeus’s vest.

“I was thinking about putting up cans around town to donate to,” she said. “And I was going to speak at some of the clubs around town that my mom (Julie) is in.”

Sgt. Darren Curtis said that, as the department looks to do further training with Zeus, a vest would be beneficial.

“Right now he is strictly narcotics,” Curtis said. “We’re wanting to get him cross-trained for tracking and bite work.”

City Clerk Alice Attwood suggested that Alley bring in her collected money on a weekly basis, and Plumb seeded the fund with $30.

When asked, Curtis said that getting Zeus the additional training could cost as much as $10,000 (including the 12 weeks that he would be committed to the training when his shifts would need to be covered)and would require additional fundraisers on a larger scale.

Other business

With the final five percent of required funding secured from Okanogan County, the council voted unanimously to accept the low bid on the Third/Fifth/Sixth Street stormwater project. The bid was awarded to J&K Earthworks, LLC, of Rock Island, WA, for $308,406.

The council also approved a revised municipal code that brought the city’s firearms regulations into compliance with state law, and approved change orders to the Bonaparte/Mill Drive and Whitcomb Pedestrian Crossing street projects.

Plumb also read a proclamation naming Friday, April 26, as Arbor Day in Tonasket. He and council member Dennis Brown planted several trees in Chief Tonasket Park on Friday for the city’s official celebration.

The council next meets on Tuesday, May 14, at 7:00 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

About Brent Baker

Brent is a reporter for the Gazette-Tribune. Prior to working at the G-T, he was the sports editor for Sunrise Publishing from 2000-2005 in Michigan. He subsequently owned and operated Buckland Media, a high school sports website, in Michigan until 2010. He and his wife Kim, who have an adult son, moved to Tonasket in 2010. Brent started work at the G-T in 2011.

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