All over Dallas, every weekend, people are running illegal businesses from their front yards. Serial garage sales violate city code, which only allows sales at a residence twice a year.

Not only that, but some seem to be fencing stolen goods, such as appliances still in their boxes, office furniture, vacuum cleaners, toiletries and brand-new lawnmowers.

City Council agreed 8-7 last week to create a $15 permit for garage sales, which are allowed twice a year. The city estimates the new fee could raise $250,000 in revenue, which would go to fund the Dallas Arboretum and cultural arts centers. The permit fee could be included in the city’s final budget, which the Council is expected to approve Wednesday, Sept. 22.

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“It’s a free-for-all,” says Gay Revi of Oak Cliff, whose blog, Garage Sales from Hell, helped draw the Council’s attention to illegal sales. “There is no permit system now. That’s why there’s such chaos.”

Revi, who also blogs as the Granny Geek, noticed that some of her neighbors were putting on “garage sales” every weekend. And sometimes, they would back up a truck and unload stuff that looked brand new.

Some wonder whether a permit and fee really would deter that kind of thing. And even if it does, whether the cost to enforce it could outweigh the revenues.

But Revi says the new permitting process will make it easier for the city to enforce its garage sale rules. Without a permit requirement, code enforcement had to recieve a complaint and then send an inspector out to see whether the sale violated code. Now, code enforcement can pull up on any sale and ask for a permit. And the fine for an illegal garage sale could be $200 or more.

“It’s a lot smarter to get the permit than to have to pay a fine,” Revi says.