I left the last Council meeting with a strange feeling. The discussion on the garage sale ordinance and garage sales in general made me think that I had wandered into a board meeting of McDonalds. It made me think they were trying to create the next happy meal.
There are a number of issues associated with garage sales. Parking, trash, outside storage, safety, etc.. The vast majority of these are already addressed by ordinances dealing with traffic, parking, public nuisances, signs, and the health code. Granted, these ordinances are often ineffective. They don't help with the problems created by garage sales. Of course, they also don't help with a rowdy super bowl party or family barbeque. They won't help when smoke easys start cropping up after the smoke ban goes into effect. They don't really help if you neighbor is just a slob, garage sales or not.
So why did I think happy meal? A happy meal is a standardized, commoditized, lowest common denominator set of products combined around fad based marketing. They're probably okay for an occasional meal when out shopping with the parents, but not close to balanced nutrition. It's a one size fits all solution that can pass for a meal targeted at kids and their parents.
The garage sale discussion seemed headed for a happy meal solution. A one size fits all solution to the fad issue of the day targeted against a specific group. The basic ordinances that address the real issues were talked about because they failed. On problem after problem, whether it was parking in alleys, outside storage of items, trash, etc. the refrain was that the current ordinances took too long or were ineffective. The gentle push was for a garage sale ordinance that limited the number and addressed again what the other ordinances already couldn't handle. We could easily end up with a happy meal of an ordinance. One that's not very nutritious, one size fits all, and driven mostly by the current fad issue.
Let's fix the problems with the current ordinances that don't work. I don't want to hear the council asking if we want fries with the next ordinance.