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Port Orange Observer Tuesday, Sep. 4, 2018 1 year ago

Port Orange ordinance recruits businesses to curb shopping cart issue

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Businesses will need to find ways to keep shopping carts on property and retrieve them when left elsewhere in the city.
by: Lurvin Fernandez Staff Writer

Port Orange City Council may pass a shopping cart ordinance that places more responsibility on business owners. 

The ordinance will require business owners to create a plan to keep shopping carts on their property, such as creating a physical barrier, equipping shopping carts with a protruding arm to keep the cart inside the building, creating a system that would require a small deposit, such as a quarter, to use a cart, or using carts with a wheel-locking mechanism triggered by an electric barrier on the edge of the business property. Businesses will also have to post signs warning people that they cannot take shopping carts. 

Business owners will also be responsible for creating a retrieval plan. Once approved by the city, the business will have to implement the plan within 30 days. 

Every city employee is responsible for reporting stray shopping carts as well, according to the ordinance. Stray carts will be placed in storage, and the cart owners will be notified to pick them up within 10 days, otherwise the city will take ownership, and the business owner may be penalized for not complying with the code. 

The Port Orange Police Department will handle code enforcement.

In April, the code enforcement team joined the police department. Around the same time, City Council presented pictures of carts throughout the city, said Police Chief Thomas Grimaldi.

Grimaldi met with Deputy City Attorney Matthew Jones and City Manager Jake Johansson to find a solution to the issue, which included consulting other cities and an ordinance Grimaldi enforced in another city in the past. 

"This ordinance truly is based on quality of life issues that we hold near and dear — to keep our community looking good and reduce unsightly shopping carts on the side of the road," Grimaldi said. 

Florida Statute already has an ordinance that penalizes people who take shopping carts off business property, Grimaldi said. However, the Port Orange ordinance would also place responsibility on business owners to keep track of their shopping carts.

Councilman Scott Stiltner said the ordinance is not meant to inconvenience business owners. He said it can prevent people from taking shopping carts but also keep carts out of ponds, lakes and wood lines in the long run.

"This is in no way intended to create more workload on (businesses)," Stiltner said. "This is a way they can help us help them. With the growing issues we've seen around the city and around the county, we're going to have to put measures here and there, and this is a good one."

Grimaldi agreed, citing the broken window theory, a policing theory that states visible signs of disorder may lead to more serious crimes in an area. Reducing shopping cart theft is a way of addressing a problem before it gets worse, Grimaldi said. 

This was the first reading of the ordinance, and City Attorney Margaret Roberts advised that business owners have a chance to comment on the ordinance. 

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