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Port Orange Observer Friday, Dec. 7, 2018 1 year ago

Who's responsible for Port Orange's stray shopping carts?

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City Council passes law change to eliminate eyesores on city streets.

By Tanya M. Russo

Staff Writer

At the regular City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 4, Port Orange Council members voted 4 to 1 in favor of adopting a city ordinance regarding shopping cart signage and responsibility, with the hopes of eliminating the eyesore of stray carts alongside city streets.

The first reading of the ordinance was the continuation of discussion and revision from the October and November meetings. The ordinance was first introduced in September by Police Chief Thomas Grimaldi, who said shopping carts from local businesses had been found at various places in the city, such as bus stops and sidewalks, posing safety hazards and creating eye sores for citizens.

Local businesses were concerned about the first draft of the ordinance because it required a special security device be placed on shopping carts to keep them from being taken off lots. The cost for such devices were $50,00 and up to maintain.

Businesses were concerned that costs would be prohibitive and asked for council members to revise the ordinance to not penalize those businesses who were all ready in compliance.

At Tuesday's meeting, City Manager Jake Johansson reported that the proposed ordinance had been revised to give big-box stores more opportunities for gathering carts before being assigned penalties. If businesses recover their carts quickly enough, they will not be accountable for the big money fines.  

If a cart is found off-site, the city will call the store whose cart was identified and give them 12 hours to retrieve their cart. If carts are picked up, there would be no need for expensive electronic devices to be placed on them. If after repeated attempts by the city to contact the business are ignored, the code enforcement process will be put into place, with fines and/or electronic devices required.

Councilman Scott Stiltner noted that after the ordinance was tabled the last time, he counted 11 shopping carts in various places throughout the city.

"These little things matter," he said. "Are these big deals? No. They're little things, and all these little things add to up the look that we want for this city."

Stiltner thanked the business owners for working with the city to help address the problem

Store managers from Lowe's and BJ's were present to thank the council for listening to their concerns and revising the ordinance to address their needs.

One small business owner who addressed the council requested that there be a fine written into the ordinance to punish shopping cart violators — not just the business owners. 

Florida statute makes shopping cart theft a misdemeanor, punishable for up to one year in prison.

The first reading passed 4-1, with Councilman Chase Tramont dissenting. Revisions to the ordinance will be presented for the second reading at the next City Council meeting.

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