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Proposed ordinance seeks fines up to $500 for theft of shopping carts

Several shopping carts with personal belongings are shown behind a building in the shopping plaza at Greenback Lane and San Juan Avenue in October 2021. // CH Sentinel

Updated Oct. 19, 9:45 a.m.–
By Philip Pesola– As part of a new plan to combat blight and clean up the city, public comment is currently being sought on a proposed ordinance aimed at reducing the number of abandoned shopping carts in the Citrus Heights.

A draft of the ordinance, released on the city’s website on Sept. 26, explains the proposed rules in detail. Businesses which provide shopping carts for customer use would be required to attach signs to each cart, including identifying and contact information, as well as a notice that removal of the cart from the associated business location is illegal.

Anyone removing a shopping cart from the businesses’ premises without written consent from the owner would be guilty of an infraction and be subject to a $100 fine for the first offense, $200 for the second, and $500 for the third, within a one year period. An enforcement provision in the draft wording also allows for “prosecution of a misdemeanor” and other penalties for anyone violating the ordinance.

Businesses which have more than five carts in use would be required to submit and implement a shopping cart plan, which would include cart and property signage, employee training, and specific loss prevention and retrieval measures.

Included in the list of recommended loss prevention measures are wheel locking devices combined with electronic or magnetic barriers to prevent carts from leaving a specified area, prohibiting use of carts outside the business’ building, and collecting security deposits for the use of carts.

If the ordinance is adopted, each affected business would have 60 days to submit a plan to the city’s Community Development Department. Any business owner who fails to submit or implement a plan, or fails to modify their plan as requested by the city, would be required to install wheel locking devices on all of their shopping carts within 60 days of being notified of the violation. Failure to install the devices by that time would result in a penalty of $500 per day that they remain uninstalled.

Under this ordinance, the city would be able to impound carts found outside of their respective business’ property. The city would be required to notify the owner of the cart within 24 hours of impounding it, to keep the cart at a reasonably accessible location, and to return the cart without any fine or penalty if it is claimed by the owner within three days. After three days, the cart owner would be required to pay for the city’s costs in contacting the owner and retrieving and storing the cart.

If the city were to impound more than five carts from a business owner within a 30 day period, that business owner could be required to install wheel locking devices on all of their carts or potentially be prohibited from the use of shopping carts altogether.

In a letter sent out to businesses in September, the city said advised business owners of its intent to pass an ordinance addressing theft and blight associated with shopping carts.

“While the City of Citrus Heights retrieves carts as part of nuisance abatement, the demand has increased to the point preventative measures are needed,” the city said in its letter, calling the proposed ordinance “one tool in a robust toolbox being built to combat blight and improve community image.”

According to a tentative timeline posted on the city’s website, a review and comment period for the proposed ordinance is currently underway through Oct. 27, 2022. The ordinance is slated to go to the City Council for a vote on Oct. 27, which if passed, would become effective Dec. 12, 2022.

Comments can be sent to, or by calling the Planning Division at (916) 727-4740. A full copy of the draft ordinance can be viewed online by clicking here.

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