Why a garage sale sign could cost you hundreds of dollars

Yard Sale signs on public property and utility poles is against city code in Ottumwa.

In the interest of making Ottumwa shine, Ottumwa police want to remind citizens not to post yard or garage sale signs on public property, utility poles, street lights and on private property without permission.

The department has received several complaints, and signs on such property are against the city's zoning code. The only signs allowed on utility poles are those from the city, and even they have to be cleared by the utility company.

"The city has permission from the utility owner to place the signs there, but no private person is authorized to place signs on utility poles," said Police Chief Jim Clark. "It's dangerous for the people that work on the poles and it starts to deteriorate the poles."

In addition to being dangerous, the signs are often unsightly and do not add to the city's goal of making Ottumwa look its best.

"Frankly, if you look at it, a lot of those look just trashy and there's nothing wrong with having garage sales or yard sales, but they need to have the signs either in their own yards or [with] permission on other people's yards," Clark said. "Maybe at intersections, but not on the poles."

The fine for violating the city code is anywhere between $50 and $500, and Clark said the Police Department will begin to issue such citations to violators in the near future.