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Davis, California

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Shopping cart ordinance to come before City Council

Ordinance to address abandoned shopping carts in Davis, impose fines on businesses for impounding carts

The Davis City Council is taking steps to address the shopping carts littered around Davis. The council and city staff are drafting up an ordinance that would require businesses to put containment systems in place, as well as impose fines and fees upon businesses for the impounding of carts.

Once a draft of the ordinance is drawn up, it will be voted on by City Council. According to Kelly Stachowicz, a staff member in the city manager’s office, businesses would only have to comply with the ordinance if they were the source of several complaints.

“We would allow everybody to have a waiver of the ordinance until, or unless, we received multiple complaints about that particular entity within a specified period of time,” Stachowicz said. “So, within a fixed period of time, if we received more than three complaints, we would require them to implement the ordinance.”

To comply with the ordinance, businesses would have to put a containment system in place. Common containment systems are wheels that lock once taken off the property, security guards to prevent customers from taking shopping carts or something that blocks the cart from leaving the store, such as a bar that is wider than the door. This is different than the shopping cart ordinances many other cities have put in place, in which all business are forced to comply.

“What we are proposing to the council — or will be proposing — is an ordinance that allows for flexibility, so that if you are determined to not be a problem, then you wouldn’t have to enact anything because you’re already policing your own carts,” Stachowicz said. “If you were a problem, and those carts were taking trips on their own, then we would require you enact something to keep those carts on site.”

The ordinance would also impose fines on businesses failing to contain their carts.

“There would be a couple of different fees associated with the ordinance,” Stachowicz said. “One would be a more administrative fee that, if we were called by someone, and they said there’s a car[t] on such-and-such street and we gave the owners a chance to pick it up, and they hadn’t picked it up and we had to go get it, then there would be a charge of the cost to pick up that cart, store it and contact the owners to come deal with it. In addition to that, if somebody was not abiding by the ordinance, there would be a fine, probably per cart, but that hasn’t been determined yet.”

The impetus for the ordinance was numerous complaints from residents. Other than being a visual blight in the community, if abandoned in the street or parking spot, shopping carts can pose a safety hazard for drivers and cyclists. Additionally, the time and money it takes to collect and return carts wastes city resources. Davis Police Lieutenant Paul Doroshov expressed support for an efficient solution.

“Whenever you have a problem, you obviously look for the most efficient way to solve it,” Doroshov said. “Obviously, sending the police out to go track them down isn’t super efficient. Having to go out for the stores and clean up these shopping carts, that’s still an issue. Why not attack the problem right from the get-go, where the source is, which is where the shopping cart is in the store parking lot. If we can prevent it from being taken out of the store parking lot, that’s the most efficient way.”

While the ordinance is a potential solution, it may not eliminate abandoned shopping carts entirely. The Davis Safeway on W. Cowell Blvd. has a wheel-locking containment system, yet it still deals with stolen shopping carts. Robert Morten, the assistant store manager of the Safeway, said that such containment systems may stop most carts from being taken off lot, but not all of them.

“It’s certainly better than not having anything,” Morten said. “Sometimes, they’ll either replace the wheel that is alarmed or they can just pick it up. If you damage the wheel, you know, it’s still a wheel. If you damage the alarm system, then it doesn’t function.”

While it may not be a perfect solution, the city is still moving forward with the ordinance. The ordinance will be brought before the city council once a more finalized version of it is drawn up. If the council does approve the ordinance, Davis residents may notice new containment systems at certain stores.

Written by: Sara Glicklich — city@theaggie.org


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