AUSTIN -- Nothing makes summer feel like summer more than the weekend yard sales throughout the neighborhood. Neighbors letting go of old goods to make room for new trends; its where everyone wants to be. That's where the Sacramento-based tech company, Yardl, saw the need to connect distributors with customers. Yardl is an app that allows home-owners the ability to temporarily lease their front yard for yard sales for an agreed upon period of time. "It's great, I can help supplement my income by leasing my front yard for antique shops looking to connect with customers," said Vic Vinegar, a home-owner in Round Rock. Marcy Johnson owns Anti-Ques in downtown San Marcos and likes the ability to serve customers in their own neighborhood. "I have six Yardl sites in the metro Austin area that I utilize every Saturday and its great for business," Johnson added.
A number of cities have begun to issue citations for property owners for conducting commercial activity in residential areas. Yardl "Hosts" have insisted that the ability to have a yard sale every weekend is a substantial property right, regardless of if their items are for sale or if they've leased it for someone else. Yardl's CEO, Broyce Hencock, agrees. "Look, yard sales are as American as apple pie, if someone wants to have a yard sale, what's wrong with that?" said Hencock, "I'm not an urban planner so I don't know much of anything about zoning or city rules. I'm just a tech guy trying to address a market need," he added. In many cities, the number of yard sales are limited to once every six months per property. Some "Sell'rs" include home-owners who have maxed out their number of sales and are looking for locations throughout the city that have "banked" their allowance. "We think its the latest innovation in the sharing economy that allows neighbors and small businesses to reach their customers, right in their own front yards!" said Hencock.
Not everyone is in favor of allowing Yardl in their neighborhoods. "We have people that don't even live here selling items that are still in their original packaging," said Melinda Diggs. However State Representative Bud Bryan thinks that cities shouldn't have the ability to limit yard sales. "The ability to utilize your property for any purpose the property owner sees fit is protected by the Constitution. Cities should not be able to overreach and tell property owners how often they can do a little house cleaning," Rep. Bryan said in a written statement. His office also indicated that he plans to introduce legislation preempting municipalities from regulating yard sales.
City planners in communities with Yardl have expressed frustration with needing to explain when a property becomes commercial. "A periodic yard sale for a home-owner is permissible, having someone else do it is not," a local planner told us. But Yardl users don't see it that way. "But that makes no sense, if it's allowed for one person, then it shouldn't matter who is selling the items. The impact is the same!" a local Yardl user exclaimed. Formidable Cities has also weighed in on the debate and have written an article demonstrating how allowing commercial activity in residential areas are critical in bringing more value to those areas which in turn allows them to reduce the long-term fiscal deficit of suburbanization. The article proclaimed that Euclidean zoning is preventing residential areas from achieving full market value.