The motor bike selling for $1,500, with trailer, and the 1954 Ford pickup (make an offer) would not be out of place at a south Fresno salvage yard.
But in this suburban corner of the city's northwest, where garage sales are limited to six a year and garbage cans must be taken in after trash day, an ongoing junk sale in front of a Sierra Avenue home is quite the spectacle.
It's also a longtime violation of county zoning ordinances, though county authorities haven't been able to do much about it -- nor roughly 400 other breaches of zoning and neighborhood codes that officials have cited but residents have refused to address.
The resident at Sierra Avenue, according to county records, has been peddling cars, small engines and auto parts out of his lawn for at least three years. That's despite getting six citations from the county and racking up $11,550 in fines and late fees.
County code-enforcement officers say they're not a policing agency and expect the monetary penalties to prompt compliance. They also don't want to be heavy-handed. Further action would require a court order.
But the county's methods, as the Sierra Avenue home proves, aren't always effective.
While most code violations are not as blatant as this one, the county identifies more than 1,200 outstanding breaches -- 398 with unpaid citations -- from illegally storing RVs in the yard to adding unpermitted home additions to failing to repair fire damage.
In at least 100 of the cases, residents have been cited six times or more.
"Why do you pass these laws if you can't enforce them?" asked one resident near Sierra Avenue. "Why issue citations?"
County officials could not easily calculate the total amount of unpaid fines. But with some violators hitting the county's $10,000-a-year cap on penalties, it's safe to say that at least a few hundred thousand dollars remains uncollected.
For the county, that's not the point.
"We don't really want the money. We want them to comply and abate the violation," said Alan Weaver, the head of the county Public Works and Planning Department, which is responsible for code enforcement.
The majority of violations are corrected after a citation is issued, county officials said. They couldn't readily quantify the number of cases that have been closed because they were corrected.
Weaver acknowledges, however, that the limits to enforcing county codes are sometimes tested.
In the case of the Sierra Avenue home: "It's clearly gone far beyond anything we can resolve," he said.
Neighbors of the Sierra Avenue junk sale are frustrated that the county has allowed it to continue so long.
They're tired of seeing their tidy neighborhood blighted by a yard full of old trucks with their hoods up. They don't like the piles of air filters, pumps and chains drawing onlookers to the block.
They especially loathe the threatening signs. One sign on a faux human skeleton reads, "Last guy that tried to steal from me."
Half a dozen residents shared their concerns with The Bee, but none would give their name for fear of retaliation.
"This is a nice neighborhood. These are nice homes. This shouldn't be going on here," one person said.
The property is owned by Paul Musgrave, and county officials believe he's the one behind the activities there. But they can't confirm whether it's him, a tenant or a housemate.
No one could be reached for comment at the home despite several visits -- even when a sign in the front yard said the junk sale was open and at least one person was in the back yard.
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