They are everywhere.
Shopping carts...Silver ones, red ones, blue ones, green ones, yellow ones, and more.
Everywhere but where they belong...on the property of the business that owns them.
On the street, on sidewalks, in parking lots, apartment complexes, parks, school yards, bike trails, beaches, and even front yards, blocks, or miles, away from where they belong.
This is a decades old problem which costs merchants money, and sprouted a whole industry of folks who earn their living tracking errant carts down on a daily basis.
In recent years some businesses have taken advantage of new technologies to reign in this community eyesore, to limited effect.
Some cities are now insisting that more businesses apply this technology, or other means.
Last month, Westminster joined the ranks.
Westminster has become the first city in Orange County to start enforcing a law that says to local businesses: Confine your shopping carts to your stores or parking lots!
The City Council passed a new ordinance that requires store owners to have a system in place that will keep shopping carts on their own property.
If your business has more than 10 carts then they must be confined to your property, and if the business doesn't comply it could face warnings at first and fines after repeat violations.
Businesses have a couple of ways to comply:
1. Install poles in the carts that would supposedly not allow customers to wheel them outside.
2. Install an electronic device in the carts that would supposedly lock their wheels if they're taken outside the perimeter of the property.
Target and Walgreens have the 2nd, at many locations, including in Westminster and Santa Ana, but as the 2nd picture shows, with the Target cart, in Garden Grove, almost a mile away from where it belongs, the system is not perfect.
I worked at Target, on Harbor in Costa Mesa, a few years ago, before Target went electronic, and chased down errant shopping carts all the way to the furthest reaches of the parking lot, along Baker, and some business have their employees scour the neighborhood immediaely around the business.
In an article in the OC Register, from which I learned of this story, one business owner says they try to educate their customers, "but it's hard because some are women with children", so "How are they supposed to carry their bags?"
That is just an excuse to ignore making these scofflaws take responsibility for their actions, and take responsibility for finding legitimate means for getting their purchases home.
It CAN be done, I'm living proof of it. ;-D
The 3 photos, above, were taken in Garden Grove, last week.
A block north of Harbor and Garden Grove Blvd. is a street that runs about 6 blocks or so as a connector of Harbor to Chapman, passing first a shopping center, then homes, and a school.
The Target Cart was a refugee from the store on Harbor and Chapman, 2 of the other carts, including the one in the yard, 3 blocks down the street, belonged to a market in the nearby center, the blue cart had no name attatched to it, and one other cart belonged to a market I hadn't heard of.
It is not hard to do the right thing, here, shoppers.
I don't care if you don't read, or spreckin', zee English, are poor, illegal, don't own a car, can't afford a bus pass, or are trailing a baby, a toddler, and/or 10 kids on your shopping excursion...none of those excuses hold a drop of water.
My parents never drove a car, and walked or bussed everywhere they needed to go, from the 50's to the 90's, and were very far from well off financially, especially in the 70's and 80's.
Us kids were right there with them, and the goods were gotten home safely WITHOUT BREAKING THE LAW, even if it meant splurging for the occasional Taxi ride.
From the time we were able to carry a bag (or 2, as we got older.), or help pull or push a red wagon, or pull a hand basket, we helped our Mom with getting purchases home, sometimes walking 7, or more, miles.
In the late 80's after the 2 sisters moved on in their lives, and I stayed at home, I still helped until Mom died in 1990.
In the late 90's this bachelor re-discovered the usefulness of the hand-pulled shopping/laundry basket that many markets, department, and hardware stores sell at very affordable prices.
Many of these carts carry a lot, and are allowed to be taken on mass transit in case you just absolutely have to go to that store in the next county over.
Errant shopping carts are a blight on the landscape of any city that allows them to proliferate, and I applaude Westminster.
Here's hoping other cities follow its example.