Anyway to stop a neighbor’s constant “yard sale” blocking the sidewalk?

Stock photo by PoPville flickr user Ranpuba

“Dear PoPville,

My neighbor has decided that the best way to spread her business is to have a CONSTANT (read every day and night for the last two weeks) yard sale. She is selling some books and random clothing items, and taking up half of the sidewalk. Other neighbors have talked to her, but nothing has changed. How can we fix this?”

46 Comment

  • If talking with her directly isn’t working, you could try complaining to DCRA. It’s unlikely that she has a permit for public vending (or whatever they’re called) for that space.

  • If talking to her is not working, call the MPD and request littering enforcement.

  • Maybe she is moving or maybe in a person tight jam.

    Unless you’re really limited to less than 1/2 – maybe you say good morning, browse a bit, and walk on by

  • She is “taking up half of the sidewalk”? So you’re saying the other half is open? I fail to see how this is a problem worth getting upset about.

  • pool together funds and buy the remaining goods. Not to be insensitive but what is the big deal!?

    • this. +1

    • Great idea; Vote with your dollars for the thing you dont like.

    • I see the big deal. Why is it ok for some people to consistently commandeer public space to turn it into a flea market? I wouldn’t want to live next to that. And unlike moving next to a liquor store or something known, the OP didn’t sign up to live next to a crummy flea market. Why are people on this site so judgmental of folks who are just looking out for their neighborhoods?

      • In my case it’s because it’s been “two weeks” according the the OP — not “consistently”, and because the OP is complaining to a blog rather than speaking to a neighbor. And speaking to the neighbor might suggest ways to intervene — if, indeed, intervention is warranted. A neighbor trying to get rid of things on a temporary basis during the summer yard sale season likely presents a different intervention from one who’s discovered a new, indefinitely on-going business opportunity.
        The other part about putting your stuff out there in public (multiple meanings here…) is that you get feedback. And some of the feedback here reflects the fact that many people regard the public space of the sidewalk as being available at least to some extent to multiple uses in multiple ways by multiple people: so the dog walkers and the parents with strollers and the kids on skates and the folks on bikes and the relatively rare yardsaler get to share the space and accommodate each other, hopefully with some sense of cooperation.

        • Well stated. I agree that this would be annoying to navigate around if the sidewalk is narrow and you’re trying to teach a new puppy leash manners, or juggle a stroller an toddler, or push a shopping cart, or maneuver your wheelchair, or balance on crutches. But if what is left of the sidewalk is still reasonably wide enough, I agree with DCNative that this falls into the category of things we all must tolerate to accommodate each other in city living.

      • Because when you share a public space with a bunch of people, you can expect some of them will do things that you wouldn’t do. That’s what living in a city is about; it’s why a lot of people prefer the suburbs. Which is perfectly legitimate. But regulating your neighbor’s use of the sidewalk when it doesn’t pose a danger to anyone, and isn’t affecting your ability to live inside your own house, is not the solution.

      • +1 to the above 2 posts. I chose to reply sarcastically because I think this is a waste of PoPville space. This has nothing to do with “quality of life” – as others have stated you need to be flexible with city living, choose your battles. Why post aimlessly to a community blog when you can just try to talk to the person – yes the OP’s neighbors talked to the person, maybe they will get the point as more and more neighbors talk to them. There are A LOT of “Dear PoPville” posts that have a simple solution: be a human and a neighbor and talk to them. In my experience in this city, there are a lot of yuppies that feel entitled simply due to the exorbitant rent they pay to live in a CITY. This would be like me complaining about foul smells in the summer; “but I don’t pay $1000 to have to smell bad air in this city! What an outrage PoPville.”

      • The OP says this has been going on every day and night for two weeks. This isn’t as bad as the case where a neighbor was running an unlicensed BBQ business out of his backyard and the poster was dealing with smoke, litter, and public urination, but nonetheless, it’s not what the space was intended for and there _are_ regulations that cover this. The OP should call DCRA.

      • Because so many people seem to value looking out for their neighborhoods than they do looking out for their actual neighbors . And yes, I do realize that doing both is possible.

      • clevelanddave

        Speaking of that, why is it ok for restaurants to take up most of a public sidewalk for free? I’m not talking about a couple of tables, but taking up most of the sidewalk (for example Birch and Barley)? Another pet peeve is when they continue to block off the space when not in use for long periods of time. For example Poste keeps barriers up all year long. Not just some but more than half the side walk. Not just like May to October but all fall/winter/spring. Argh!

    • +1 Awesome idea! Win/Win!

    • Similarly you could post an Ad on craigslist, would have been far more effective than wasting your time with us trolls on PoPville.

  • I have a neighbor who holds frequent yard sales on the sidewalk. MPD is not likely to enforce anything except infringing on the street.

    To the OP, I’m sorry your neighbor is inconsiderate and unresponsive to neighborly requests. Luckily that is not what I’ve experienced.

  • I fail to see what the big problem is here. Are you in a wheelchair? Do you require the entire width of the sidewalk to pass by?

  • +1. By the looks of pic it appears as OP overpays to live in Logan Circle, thus clearly entitling her to get upset…come on guys.

  • I feel your pain- I live next door to a group house that constantly dumps “free” stuff on our shared wall next to the sidewalk. Things like remote controllers for long-discarded televisions with a sticky note that says “broken,” single shoes, books soaked by many afternoon thundershowers, broken shelves… basically, trash. On the other hand, I live in Mt. Pleasant, so it sort of comes with the territory.

    • PDleftMtP

      I’ve passed that. One possibility (from a prior house): if it’s free, pick it up, take it in, and put it in a Hefty bag.

      But I agree with everyone else. “Looking tacky” isn’t a crime.

      • Not a crime, just inconsiderate. Shared front sidewalk space isn’t your dumping ground for unwanted items. Take them the Goodwill like the rest of us, don’t leave them out for over a week.

    • You could try reporting them to DPW — category “sanitation enforcement” on Discarding free items that someone might theoretically want is one thing (though it too is unsightly), but it sounds like the people in that house really don’t understand that there are some things you can’t even give away.

    • Where is it in Mt Pleasant? I want to check out some broken remotes.

    • Strangely enough, the stuff does usually disappear, so I let it be. I knew that Mt. P is eccentric when I moved in, and they are far from the only house that does it, so I try to just chalk it up to being a part of the character of the neighborhood. But I silently judge them (or, I guess, less silently now).

  • throw her crap in the trash, like you would anything else laying unattended on the sidewalk? or walk by it?

  • diploj

    This is a stock photo and probably unrelated to the OP’s actual situation.

  • I came here for the comments.

    *slinks away*

  • I did not research DC but almost every jurisdiction has a law that limits any residence to one or 2 yard sales per year or else it has to be permitted. DCRA is the licensing entity and as we all know no agency likes to issue citations more than they do.

  • Ok this is part of living in a city full of unique personalities and people you wouldn’t necessarily see anywhere else. What’s the problem, exactly? Having to look at this person try and see her belongings somehow impacts your livelihood?

  • With all the other hawking that goes on in this world, I have a hard time bearing ill feelings to folks who set up small sales on the sidewalk. Maybe just admire her enterpise a bit and let it go? Is it really that bad? Or can she create a bit more space but still purvey her wares, tuppence a bag and all?

  • Per DCRA each household is allowed only two (2) yard sales per year. all is needed is to notify DCRA with enough info and they will investigate. then issue a letter to the owner/tenant to cease. If they do not then they will be fined. Cheers.

  • Pour a sticky concoction on her stuff….like a bucket of maple syrup mixed with gator aide and sugar or some pungent cleaning fluid. That should resolve the issue.

  • Just consider yourself lucky it has only been a few weeks. Perpetual Yard Sale Man, at the corner of K & 10th (?), NE, has been yardsaling for *years*, and shows no sign of stopping yet.

    • I’ve never seen anyone buy anything there. After about ten years, curiosity got the better of me and I finally took a look at what he had. Didn’t want any of it.

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