An obscure city law that prohibits residents from having more than three yard sales per year brought a government crackdown on a Salem woman who suffers from bone marrow cancer.
Jan Cline, who was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer earlier this summer, told Portland news channel KATU that she could break a bone by merely walking. The cancer, she says, eats holes in her bones.
With such a debilitating terminal condition she has no income. She is unable to work and does not have health insurance.
In order to pay her bills, which she told KATU amount to "thousands and thousands" of dollars each month, Cline decided to start selling her possessions in her back yard. She began raking in several hundred dollars each weekend.
What could have been a success story for a terminal cancer patient soon turned into a bureaucratic nightmare.
After a few weekends a neighbor complained about the yard sales and the city threatened Cline with a $300 fine if she did not cease the yard sales, citing a law that limited a resident to three yard sales per year.
That's right, in Salem it is illegal to sell your own possessions on your own property more than three times per year.
“I just hope that nobody else has to go through this kind of thing," Cline told KATU. "I hope no one else has to give their lives away for nickels and dimes and then be told they can’t even do that. I hope nobody else has to do this ever.”
The city's Community Development Department told KATU the reason for the law is that people have set up permanent flea-market type yard sales on their property.
But Cline told KATU she did her best to keep the yard sale in the back yard "so it's not goobering up the neighborhood."
That's not enough for the city bureaucrats, however, who told Cline "the laws the law."
According to KATU:
After hearing more about Cline’s situation, a supervisor said he is going to take another look to see if there’s anything she can do to operate within the law. But if she reopens now, it is a misdemeanor and about a $300 fine.
The community, however, has stepped up and donated $16,500 to Cline.