While a plan to eliminate abandoned shopping carts in El Centro received final approval this week, one city official wants the public to understand it will take time for the ordinance to do its job.
The city council approved the second reading of its new shopping cart containment and retrieval ordinance at its June 4 meeting, clearing the way for the plan to take effect after 30 days, which will be July 5.
The final approval was part of the council’s consent agenda voted on in a group including other measures. There was no public comment, Council Member Cheryl Viegas-Walker said.
The approval of the ordinance’s first reading came at the council’s May 21 meeting.
“The city will be working with business owners on compliance. We’re not going to be out there day 1 slapping fines on business owners,” Viegas-Walker said in a June 5 interview.
“The intended outcome is the elimination of blight caused by the abandoned shopping carts,” she said, but agreed business owners will need time to enact compliance measures.
A grace period will be in effect until Sept. 5 to allow businesses to learn how abandoned carts in neighborhoods affect the community as eyesores, impediments to traffic and safety hazards, Norma Villicana, city Community Development director, said at the May 21 meeting.
Viegas-Walker said anytime the city increases the cost of doing business --- which she admitted the ordinance does --- the city needs to be mindful of its actions and how it affects people.
She said there are three important elements to the ordinance businesses will need time and assistance from the city to comply with.
First, the ordinance requires each cart have a placard so the city knows who owns an abandoned cart and how to contact them to retrieve it.
Second, each business is required to write a cart containment plan, steps it will take to ensure carts remain on site. For example, she said, plans would include how many times a day the business will go out and collect carts, how it will secure carts after business hours, and the tagging of each cart.
Third, businesses must develop and write a cart retrieval plan that spells out the ability to retrieve abandoned carts, either on their own or by a third-party vendor.
Once the ordinance is in effect, and businesses have had a chance to develop the three essential elements of the plan, the fine will be $50 per cart for any carts found in excess of three occurrences within six months. Then, a clean slate will be set and the same regulation will be followed for further six-month periods.