Longview to Enforce Shopping Cart Ordinance 2019 by Fall to Prevent Theft and Waste | Local

A 2019 law to prevent people from stealing and abandoning shopping carts in Longview is expected to be enforced by the fall.

The city council passed the ordinance in April 2019 to assign ownership of collection carts to businesses by requiring staff to collect abandoned carts nearby and label the carts with contact details so they can be returned. Rules implementation plans have been put on hold during the pandemic.

Prior to the order, taking a shopping cart from a business without written permission was already an offense in Washington state.

Longview Public Works Director Ken Hash said there were two issues: property theft and the town’s landfill.

“Besides being an eyesore, it’s just plain illegal,” he said. “It’s private property, and they belong to the store.”

More than half of the entrance to the Alabama Street homeless settlement, once filled with garbage, furniture and pallets, was cleared on Tuesday …

The problem

According to Longview Community Development Coordinator Gregg Hannon, some seniors carry groceries to their homes using carts and do not return them. In addition, homeless people can use carts to transport their belongings.

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Carts are left unattended on city property such as streets, sidewalks and parks.

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Hannon said a contractor is collecting carts for Longview Fred Meyer, WinCo Foods and two Safeway locations. The entrepreneur estimates that she picks up about 50 carts per week.

She estimates that she collected 4,600 carts in 2020 and 1,590 carts in 2021 and returned them to stores, Hannon said.

Safeway’s director of communications and public affairs, Jill McGinnis, said each of the two Longview Safeways is losing about three carts a week, costing the store around $ 100 per cart.

Hash said public works workers were also checking abandoned carts across town and calling Waste Control to pick them up. According to Hannon, Waste Control estimates that staff collected 200 carts in 2020 and 2021, mostly near the Alabama Street homeless encampment.

Rules

Hannon said city stores will have 30 days from Monday to create plans to prevent people from removing shopping carts from company property. Once the proposals are approved, they will have 90 days to implement the plans.

Hannon said 19 stores in the city are required to create plans because they have 10 or more carts.

Requirements include labeling shopping carts with addresses and phone numbers so people know where to return them. Store staff are also required to pick up carts that are picked up within a half-mile radius of the business every 72 hours.

The city is asking people who find abandoned carts to contact the company that owns them. If the carts are not collected within 48 hours, contact the city at carts@mylongview.com or 360-442-5093.

Quotes

The exact way in which quotes will be given has not been determined. Hannon said city officials should have “an internal discussion” about the “level of enforcement.”

He said the city should be “compliant with the laws,” but questioned whether vulnerable populations, such as the elderly or the homeless, should receive citations.

He said if police found a homeless person with a stolen cart, they could hand over the bags to carry their belongings and return the cart to the store.


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Peggy P. Gilmore