The City Council on Tuesday will consider passing an ordinance that would ban outdoor swap meets.
The ordinance, which has been recommended by the city’s Planning Commission, is being proposed “in an effort to maintain the character of the city’s neighborhoods,” according to a city staff report.
The report states that outdoor swap meets in the city have historically resulted in parking problems, theft, noise, trash and “neighborhood intrusion” by swap meet customers.
Outdoor swap meets began to fall out of favor in the city in 1987, when it shut down a popular swap meet held at Eddie West Stadium after receiving complaints from neighboring homeowners about excessive trash and noise.
The city then spent more than three years in court trying to shut down El Mercado, a swap meet held Sundays in the parking lot of Rancho Santiago College. Both swap meets were operated by Councilman Richards L. Norton.
The ordinance to be considered will come just two weeks after the college’s Board of Trustees decided not to appeal a court decision that gives the city the power to shut down El Mercado, the last outdoor swap meet operating in the city.
Councilman John Acosta said he will probably vote against the ordinance because he thinks there are already enough restrictions on outdoor swap meets.
“I don’t understand the logic,” Acosta said. “We’re the most over-regulated city in Orange County. Swap meets, whether we want to admit it or not, are part of our society. They are part of Santa Ana’s culture.”
If approved by the council, the ordinance would not ban indoor swap meets and would not apply to temporary outdoor events such as holiday festivals, crafts fairs or bazaars sponsored by government agencies, churches or civic nonprofit service organizations.