Saturday, November 24, 2007

Who Enforces B&P Code 22435?

Like many of the residents here at the Santiago Street Lofts, I spend countless hours working downstairs in my home office. As my desk faces the sidewalk, I am privy to many interesting things that happen outside on a daily basis that makes for great stories among friends and family.

Several times a day, I hear the klickity-klank of shopping carts as they are pushed along on the sidewalk out front. Sometimes they are filled with groceries or kids, and other times I'll see someone who's pushing their entire existence contained in that cart as they rummage through the trash for recyclables.

As I watch these individuals through the looking glass, I recall my last Targhetto trip where as I was loading up the car, I saw a family pushing a shopping cart towards the yellow sensor at the end of the parking lot. Just before arriving at the yellow line that automatically triggers the front wheels to lock, the teenager pushing the cart put his foot on the lower portion of the carriage, causing the cart to "pop a wheelie" as he and his family continued down Grand Avenue. It was evident that he and his family had perfected this craft.

I asked myself how did this problem get out of hand in the first place? Cities like Milpitas uphold a strong ordinance that is strictly enforced. The first offense will cost you $100, the second violation in the same year, $200; any additional offenses that year will run you $500. This might sound a little harsh, but the fact is that the removal of a shopping cart without permission from the store is a crime (misdemeanor), it even says so right on it!

If you think the fine for individuals who remove shopping carts from the premises is harsh, read how the ordinance applies to store/business owners:

The local businesses have also been informed of this ordinance. They are required to comply by taking measures to prevent shopping cart removal and provide a cart retrieval plan that meets City approval/ or enter into a contract with a City designated cart retrieval service. Noncompliance from the business owners/managers is subject to a civil fine of $1,000.00 and an additional fine of $50.00 for each additional day of noncompliance.

While I don't expect Santa Ana's finest to cuff those who break this law, something needs to be done as shopping carts are deposited all over the city, including the Logan neighborhood in which we all live. Besides, it's stealing! Shopping carts cost stores anywhere from $125-$250 per cart to replace–and we all know that the stores always pass these costs back on to the consumers.

Although California Business and Professions Code 22435 states that the removal of a shopping cart from the property is a misdemeanor, nowhere does it state how the city can enforce this code, nor does it establish a specified fine amount to the offenders. In other words, cities can pick and choose whether they wish to enforce this code or not.

Yesterday, as I did my daily walk around the neighborhood, I made sure to first grab my trusty camera before walking the streets adjacent to the lofts. All of these photos were taken within minutes of each other. It seems that the largest and most expensive units (plan 4) are not only magnets for graffiti, but shopping carts as well.

The above cart was left on the corner of Santa Ana Boulevard and Poinsettia Street.

This cart was left next to the seldom-occupied Urban West unit located on the corner of Santa Ana Boulevard and Santiago Street.

One block north on Santiago Street and Civic Center Drive is where this cart filled with junk was deposited.

These two carts were parked on Civic Center Drive sitting right across the street from the previous cart.

The city has available a shopping cart pick-up service that is quite effective when used, but a phone call first needs to be placed as I've seen carts in certain parts of the city not move for weeks on end.

In a past town hall meeting hosted by our Council Member Michele Martinez, many residents including myself, brought up concerns about the continually growing problem of shopping carts that are loose on our streets.

I mentioned that the carts are not only an eyesore, but can be a road hazard as well. I cited a night when a friend came to visit me and as he exited the 5 south freeway to the Santa Ana Boulevard off ramp, he had to quickly swerve to avoid five shopping carts that were deliberately placed across the road.

It was concluded from that meeting that the responsibility of the carts was ultimately that of the stores. Every store that provides shopping carts was responsible for ensuring the city that they would not run away. That town hall meeting was almost a year ago, and like the rest of Santa Ana's problems, not much seems to have happened by way of change.

And while we wait for the stores to implement their safeguards, shopping carts are making their way off parking lots on a daily basis, only to end up as another problem for the city of Santa Ana.

To have unsightly shopping carts removed from anywhere in the city, a pick-up service is available at (888) 233-2278. As of this posting, the five carts pictured have been reported.

Read more about the city of Milpitas and their ordinance here.

Here's a success story reported in the Sacramento Bee about how high-tech carts have helped curb their city's problem.


Go Away Carts! said...

When I lived in Long Beach there were shopping cart scavengers much like the recycle bin raiders that come looking for cans, except in small flatbed trucks. They were obviously in some sort of business of collecting and returning carts (for a reward?) to the respective stores. I'll have to find out which unutilized mechanism of city management Santa Ana can engage to fuel this type of entrepreneurship.

California Grocers Association said...

Some cities are contracted with them to just randomly check for carts?

UrbanMessiah said...

Old news, the contractors have been on the payroll to pick up carts for ages. That's how the city solved this one.

Ben Dayhoe said...


concerned homeowner said...

I called the Food For Less phone number that was on a cart I saw on the north side of Santa Ana blvd Wednesday. I was given another number. (800-252-4613) The recorded message I got is for all cart retrievals. It asks approximate location, name of store...and proceeds to say "all carts may not be retrieved". I think I saw the same cart on Santiago Street on Friday (the red one in the picture). Seem like your phone contact worked better. (888-233-2278)

Anonymous said...

I'm attempting to send our blog to the "Community Preservation Commitee" which is made up of code enforcement employees and volunteers who assist with code violations. Their 2007 agenda included shopping carts as one of the issues to be addressed. If the cart retreival company cannot cover the city's overwhelming cart problem, then maybe they need two cart retreival services!??

carts are an eyesore said...

It's great that the city has a cart retrieval service, but why is this an issue to begin with? I like that many stores now implement auto locking wheels, but according to Ben, people have already found a way around that. Businesses should have one wheel on the front and one on the back (preferably diagonal from each other) auto lock in order to prevent the "wheelie" solution.