The City Council is weighing an ordinance that would levy substantial fines against grocery stores when their shopping carts are abandoned around town.
Council members at Monday's meeting unanimously voted to draft an ordinance that would seek fines from $25 to $250 against stores whose shopping carts are found outside the stores' premises unless the person with it has prior approval to remove the cart from the store.
"It's something we really need to do," said Councilman Peter F. Buffa. "All these carts being pushed around are running the neighborhood down."
City crews have reported an increase in abandoned carts citywide, and the crews were having to remove the carts from public right-of-way areas.
If there is no opposition at a public hearing, the ordinance, based on similar ones passed in the cities of San Juan Capistrano and Glendale, would become law by the beginning of November.
Under the draft ordinance, the owners of shopping carts would be required to register their carts with the city. If city crews find the carts, then the businesses would be fined. Presently, not all shopping carts have serial numbers on them.
City officials are unable to say whether the increase in shopping carts abandoned around the city is due to grocery stores no longer retrieving them or more people taking them off the premises. Removing a cart from a store premises without permission is a misdemeanor under state law.
The city might also decide to hire a collection agency to pick up the carts. But cities such as San Juan Capistrano and Glendale have found that grocery stores usually resort to hiring their own collection companies rather than face being fined by the city.