Good Samaritans Warned: Stop Giving Away Free Things or Face $1,000 Fine

Altruism can be such an eyesore, complain neighbors.


David Silver/Flickr

In Sacramento, a group of charitable housemates has been holding free giveaways on their front lawn. All recently homeless, the housemates say they benefitted from the kindness of strangers in their times of need and now want to pay the goodwill forward by distributing donated goods to others. But the city is trying to shut down the operation, which it says counts as an illegal garage sale. 

Under Sacramento city code, residents may only hold one lawn or garage sale per year; holding too many sales will yield a preliminary warning, followed by a fine of up to $1,000 upon the second offense. Kate Worsley and her housemates received a warning from the city last week, according to CBS Sacramento. Officials say the home has been holding too many garage sales and must be considered a business, which the neighborhood isn't zoned for. 

Worsley insists that what they're doing isn't a sale at all, but a giveaway. All items, from used baby toys to canned goods to romance novels, are donated from members of the community—the housemates solicit them via a "pay-it-forward" Facebook group—and given away for free. Cash donations are accepted from those who want to give, with the money going to provide Sunday sack lunches for the homeless.

But altruism can be such an eyesore, complain neighbors like Brent Sanchez, who called the whole business "kind of tacky." 

Worsley and her housemates are now considering whether to fight the city's code enforcement or start holding the giveaways at different homes around the area. Regardless, "code enforcement will not stop me from helping people," Worsley posted to the "Pay It Forward In Sacramento Ca" Facebook group. "I am still taking donations to help provide the people in need with the things they need," she told me in a message.

NEXT: Conservatives Causing Heart Attacks By Abandoning Pot Prohibition!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Private charity is a myth, dammit!

    1. *vomits on sarcasmic*

      1. Didn’t know that was back in vogue. Are we doing that again?

        *prepares ipecac*

        1. In an earlier thread Tony said that if anyone who mentioned charity in regards to the safety net that he’d throw up.

  2. When I was growing up, garage and yard sales were good fun. You could find all kinds of neat little things that you couldn’t find elsewhere.

    I don’t know if my hometown has/had a limit on the number of yard/garage sales a person can have, but I seem to remember people who would have at least two a year back in the day.

    1. Older women would always put on sales. By the time you’re 60, your wardrobe exceed the capacity of your closet.

  3. But altruism can be such an eyesore, complain neighbors like Brent Sanchez, who called the whole business “kind of tacky.”

    I bet he’s an absolute fucking blast at parties, let me tell ya…

    1. A bureaucrat in the making.

      1. Shit flows downhill. His name is Brent which means his parents are also assholes.

        1. I think you are onto something. I’ve only known 2 Brents in my entire life and they were both assholes.

          1. *balls fists, prepares to defend the honor of Brent Seabrook, Brent Sopel and Brent Spiner*

            Come to think of it, Seabrook and Sopel could probably do a much better job of fist fighting than me. Spiner could afford a bodyguard…


          2. I’ve never met anyone named Brent or Brett that wasn’t an asshole.

            1. Fan of Brent Spiner, enjoy his Twitter, where he relishes being an asshole. Really, he’s a dick. In a fun way but he’s a dick.

    2. Someone check his political registration. I’m betting he’s not a Libertarian.

    3. People like this are why they have those laws and policies.

  4. Yeah, but holding one every week or is uncivil to your neighbors.

    The renter next door once held a weekly yard sale for about half the summer, and I’d have to shoo peoples’ cars off my lawn. Basic zoning codes aren’t a terrible restriction on liberty.

    1. It’s not the people selling shit that are being uncivil here. It’s the buyers.

    2. Nothing is a restriction on liberty when it’s being imposed on other people. Then it’s just common sense.

      1. Stop commenting on my lawn, Hugh.

    3. At a bare minimum the zoning codes should be applied honestly. Claiming that it’s a “garage sale” when it plainly isn’t is dishonest. If it’s that important, get the code changed in an upfront manner giving the other side an opportunity to defend their position.

      Yes, I know, I’m naive. Society would dissolve into chaos if people couldn’t be buttfucked with laws that don’t even apply to them!

    4. I kind of agree. It wouldn’t be that hard for them to set up a “free stuff” box in cooperation with a local usiness. Or just give it to a homeless shelter.

      Putting the stuff out on their lawn just seems lazy.

      At least put an ad on craigslist for it.

      1. Aren’t these items aimed at people who don’t have much access to anything, including Craig’s List?

    5. I don’t think the cars on your lawn were the fault of the person running the yard sale.

      Unless your neighbor was selling really, really big magnets. Then it’s totally their fault.

      1. Maybe the neighbors put up “free parking” signs in his yard.

        1. Better yet, charge money to park.

  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samaritans

    By the way, Samaritans are still around.

    1. I wonder if they consider the Parable of the Good Samaritan to be an example of stereotyping.

    2. My neighbors across the street from me used to have big garage sales every year, multi-family yard sales. They had a pole barn that they would set their stuff up in.

      The first time this happened, I came home from work on Friday and there were cars parked all along the front of my property including one blocking my drive way.

      That evening, I made up a bunch of ‘No Parking, violators will be towed’ signs. That pretty much resolved it. I never for once thought to run to some government toady and try to get these people banned from having their sales.

  6. “an illegal garage sale.”


    Do I need a permit for a FUCKING GARAGE SALE?

    The people who passed this little piece of bureaucratic shit should be die in a newspaper avalanche in their home hallway.

    1. Was that a reference to the Collyer brothers?

    2. If they don’t require permits, then anyone will be having garage sales, and bad parallel parking will run in the streets!

  7. I’d probably get pretty irritated if my neighbors started laying crap all over their lawn every week and started giving it away for free. It’d probably be pretty tough to sell a house with that going on too.

    I don’t know if a once a year limit should be imposed by the state, however. Seems like these types of agreements can be handled through an HOA or other similar organization.

    1. All we need is a government that isn’t called a government. Then we can finally make people do what we want them to do!

    2. “these types of agreements can be handled through an HOA or other similar organization”

      Those sorts of agreements are called “laws”. And the issue has already been “handled” by not passing one. The absence of a law is not a crisis that needs fixing by private coercion.

      And if the HOA enforces their “agreements” with the threat of government action, as most try to do, then it’s still being done by the state.

    3. The easy way to solve the problem is to go take all of the free stuff as soon as they set it out.

  8. When I was growing up and well into my adult life, yard sales were a common occurrence. I never once in all of those years, ever, heard anyone complaining about them, let alone suggesting they should be banned.

    Our country has went to hell. The busy bodies have won.

    1. It’s part of growing up in a community. You can have yard sales without being a nuisance to your neighbors. But for the most part, it was a chance to meet your neighbors.

  9. the government does not like competition

  10. , which it says counts as an illegal garage sale.

    Don’t they mean an ‘illegal garage giveaway’?

  11. Just set up a “free box” at the local hippie food coop, like everyone else!!

  12. Stop Giving Away Free Things or Face $1,000 Fine

    Giving away free thngs is speech.

    Also, apparently it’s wrong to give a homeless person $1,000.00, but just fine to hand over $1,000.00 to the city of Sacramento.

    1. Hey the city worked hard for that $1,000. Meetings were attended and social contracts were consulted.

  13. “which it says counts as an illegal garage sale.”

    Now that you mention it, this garage does look pretty illegal. We’d better get the housing inspector out here. Don’t worry, if everything checks out you’ll probably be allowed back in your home in just a few weeks.

  14. Giving away “free shit*” is the government’s job, and the government hates competition.

    *free shit = shit paid for with money stolen from others under threat of violence.

    But altruism can be such an eyesore, complain neighbors like Brent Sanchez, who called the whole business “kind of tacky.”

    Of course this assclown probably assuages his conscience by voting Democrat and holding all the RIGHT VIEWS. Charity makes him vomit, just like Tony.

  15. If I were a more conspiratorial minded person, I’d say that the government was trying to shut down any private competition in the charity department.

  16. Government crackdown on helping the poor has really taken off lately! I’m glad to see they’re finally doing something about the poor!

    *chokes and dies*

  17. Thought two things when I read this:

    Make sure to look into zoning laws before buying a house. Living next to flea market/homeless shelter has got to crap on your property value and I don’t want to get towed for parking on the street.

    Why aren’t they donating items to homeless shelters/women’s shelters/churches/salvation army that are much more efficient at distributing items? I know salvation army charges, but they do have half-off days every week.

  18. IM like totally down dude.


  19. Haven’t these people got the message that “Charity begins (and ends) with the government.”?

    How dare they give stuff away that hasn’t first been taken by the government and disbursed according to government rules and regulations!

  20. Well, it’s Kalifornia, so it’s full of Moonbats and Loons. They continue to vote for this crap, so I hope they enjoy it.

    The way to fight this is with political pressure on the City Council. Vote the rascals out. The new guys may get the message.

    But remember, these are Libturds. They are doing it “for your own good.”

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.