Abandoned shopping carts ordinance hits roadblocks

Basket left in the parking lot (via David Clarke / Unsplash)

Abandoned shopping carts can create problems and even be left in streams, but a new state law seems to help little, according to Fairfax County supervisors.

At a Land Use Policy Committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday), the supervisory board reconsidered a Virginia law intended to discourage people from removing shopping carts from businesses over concerns that the introduction of an ordinance local only adds to an exhaustive and inefficient process.

“What we ask of our investigators is very time consuming and unsuccessful,” said James Walkinshaw, Braddock District Supervisor. draft ordinance on abandoned baskets.

A major concern is that adding an ordinance can be time consuming and impose an unnecessary administrative burden on county staff, who could, for example, document the same incident twice since state law requires the owner of a cart receives a 15-day notification period before it can be deleted.

Currently, if a cart is blocking a road or if a group is cleaning up a stream, there are no restrictions on removing it.

Virginia General Assembly passed a law in 2020 to enable counties to pass laws to:

  • Fine to persons with a civil fine of up to $ 500 for removing shopping carts from store premises and parking lots
  • Hold stores responsible for returning or disposing of abandoned carts, including paying up to $ 300 per cart the county is removing

The land use policy committee discussed the issue in December, although staff advised against passing an ordinance and board members are skeptical. During the meetingPresident Jeff McKay has spoken out against imposing a fine on people trying to bring home groceries.

The draft ordinance that the county introduced on Tuesday only referred to fines imposed on businesses, not individuals.

Even before the state law of 2020, the Commonwealth made removing shopping carts from stores and parking lots a crime, with the potential of a fine up to $ 500.

“My problem with that is … it just doesn’t make people stop stealing carts,” said Pat Herrity, Springfield District Supervisor, who also wondered if certain areas or customers might be affected. disproportionately. “It’s a bit out of the control of the companies.”

Photo via David Clarke / Unsplash


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Peggy P. Gilmore