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Citrus Heights continues to battle shopping cart blight – Citrus Heights Sentinel

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A stash of shopping carts in the Citrus Heights Utility Yard. // Courtesy of City of Citrus Heights

By Sara Beth Williams–
Over 1,500 shopping carts were collected off the streets of Citrus Heights in 2023, according to an annual Police Department report given during the April 25 City Council meeting.

When asked by Councilmember Tim Schaefer whether retailers were complying with specific plans to address theft outlined in an ordinance passed in 2022, Citrus Heights Chief of Police Alex Turcotte said that businesses are not complying “to the level that we would like.”

General Services Director Regina Cave said carts are tracked daily, and retailers are contacted when multiple carts from a single retailer are gathered. The General Services Department is having difficulty coordinating with an independent contractor who collects carts for multiple local businesses, Cave said.

“Our intent is that this summer we will become a lot more proactive in reaching out to retailers,” Cave said, adding that she would like to see a lot more compliance to reduce the number of carts collected by half.

A total of 425 shopping cart service requests have been completed in 2024 so far, according to the city. Some service requests included multiple carts. Cave said in April that many carts retrieved have broken locking mechanisms.

Abandoned shopping carts are also collected within the Sunrise MarketPlace business improvement district, with more than 750 carts collected last year, according to Sunrise MarketPlace Executive Director Kathilynn Carpenter. The shopping district, which extends along Sunrise Boulevard from the Arcade Creek Park Reserve to Madison Avenue, has its own shopping cart and debris collection program.

For the first quarter of 2024, 128 abandoned carts have been collected and returned so far, Carpenter told The Sentinel, adding that the shopping cart ordinance does not stop transients or other shoppers from removing carts from stores. Retrieving carts from bushes can be “time consuming,” Carpenter said, and added that carts must be sanitized afterward. Anything outside the shopping district is reported to the City’s Beautification Crew.

In an email to The Sentinel, the city clarified that the total number of carts collected by the city’s Beautification Crew reflects all carts retrieved from public right of way passages, including carts blocking the right of way within the Sunrise MarketPlace district.

In October 2022, the Citrus Heights City Council passed an ordinance intended to reduce the number of abandoned shopping carts in the city. Under the regulation, businesses with more than five shopping carts are required to submit plans to the city detailing preventive measures which includes labeling carts with identifying information. Business owners can be fined $25 per cart if not retrieved from the city after three days.

Related: Citrus Heights passes ordinance to curb shopping cart blight; drops hefty fines – Citrus Heights Sentinel

Citrus Heights Communications Officer Marisa Brown told The Sentinel that shopping carts retrieved from public streets are logged, and communication is made with either the retailer or their designated cart retriever to arrange pick up from the City Hall utility yard. Carts that are broken or unstable are disposed of by the city.

Retailers used to have courtesy clerks retrieve carts because they were considered a “significant asset,” Cave said during the April 25 City Council meeting, adding that larger retailers will write off the cost of stolen carts instead of coming to retrieve the carts from the city.

Cave noted that at least two local retailers who own their businesses and keep a smaller quantity of shopping carts on hand have been “a lot more responsive” because replacement of lost carts is very costly.

Under the 2022 ordinance, businesses with more than five carts impounded in a period of 30 days could be compelled to either install wheel locking mechanisms or be prohibited from using carts altogether.

The Sentinel reported last year that the Walgreens store at the corner of Sunrise Boulevard and Antelope Road was left with zero shopping carts in March 2023, following repeated thefts of carts.

Related: Walgreens store left with zero shopping carts after thefts

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