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Code Enforcement Seeks Stronger Cart Ordinance

The City of Visalia’s Neighborhood Preservation Division, in conjunction with the Visalia Police Department, is seeking an ordinance amendment to help crack down on shopping cart theft.

At Monday night’s Council meeting, Tracy Robertshaw, Neighborhood Preservation Manager, stated that on a near daily basis staff receives complaints from concerned citizens regarding shopping carts that have been abandoned throughout the city.

Visalia’s current ordinance allows City staff to retrieve abandoned carts, in compliance with state laws regulating the collection of carts.

“The current ordinance does not address the initial theft of carts,” stated Robertshaw. “The proposed ordinance is intended to simplify the regulation of shopping carts by prohibiting shopping carts in public right of ways, streets and sidewalks, without the permission of the owner.”

The proposed amendment, which had its first reading Monday night, would address the person that committed the theft and hold a person accountable when they are found in possession of the stolen property. Citations will be issued in the amount of $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second violation and $500 for each violation thereafter.

Based on growing concerns over the blight created by the carts, the Shopping Cart ordinance was introduced in July of 2013, becoming effective in September of that year.

Since enforcement of the ordinance began, there are been approximately 5,000 abandoned/stolen carts removed from the City.

In addition to removing carts that have been abandoned throughout the City, staff also retrieve carts that are illegally being used in the public right of way or in public view. If carts are found with belongings in them, the items are placed into storage for safekeeping until the owner can be located or they come forward for the items. If someone is present with the cart, bags are provided for any items in the cart or they can request the items be placed into storage until they are able to retrieve them at a later time.

The ordinance will have its second reading at the Monday, May 15th Visalia City Council meeting. For more information, visit Neighborhood Preservation.

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