Abandoned shopping carts ordinance hits roadblocks

Abandoned Shopping Cart (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, Fairfax County supervisors say.

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

“What we ask our investigators is extremely 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 place 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 people 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 removes

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 opposed the imposition of a fine on people trying to bring home groceries.

The draft ordinance the county introduced on Tuesday only referred to fines for 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 for a fine up to $ 500.

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

Photo via David Clarke / Unsplash


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Peggy P. Gilmore

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