SoCal city fights “shopping cart blight”

A new municipal ordinance in El Cajon, a city just east of San Diego, has put restrictions on Home Depot, Sears, Walmart, and other retailers that allow shopping carts in their parking lots, according to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune

The El Cajon City Council voted on Sept. 13 to require businesses to manage their carts so they don’t become a public eyesore. Apparently, people have been stealing the carts and then abandoning them, leaving the city to retrieve and return the carts to the original retailers. According to the city, from July 2009 through December 2010, it recovered 826 abandoned shopping carts that belong to two dozen stores, or an average of more than two a day.

A city councilwoman noted that most retailers contract out a cart retrieval service but apparently it is not frequently enough to address the problem.

According to the new ordinance, the city can request store managers in El Cajon to submit a plan that describes the store’s shopping-cart control system, and store workers will need to supply the city with a monthly cart inventory.

Stores can also be asked to employ a wheel-lock system for their carts, among other measures, and fees will be charged if shopping carts have to be picked up and then stored off site by city workers.