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Recommended Guidelines for a New Ordinance on Shopping Carts

Presented by

Vickery Meadow Improvement District Board of Trustees

October 21,2010


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Recommended Guidelines for a New Shopping Cart Ordinance

Vickery Meadow Improvement District (VMID) recommends the City of Dallas adopt a new shopping cart ordinance containing the following key provisions:

• Require every store that uses shopping carts to obtain a Shopping Cart Permit that includes their plan for keeping their carts on property. The permit should be renewed annually on a calendar year basis at a cost to be set by the City. Based on our research, we recommend a permit fee of $100.

• Require each cart have affixed to it (a) the name of the store owning the cart, and (b) a statement in English and Spanish that removing the cart from the premises is a criminal offense.

• Make it the responsibility of the owners of the carts to retain the carts within the store area, which includes the adjacent parking and maneuvering areas.

• If any carts are found away from the store's area by the City or an agent of the City, those carts shall be impounded, and at the City's discretion, either (a) returned directly to the owners, (b) stored in a central location and returned to the owners at a later time, or (c) stored and made available for pickup by the owner at a specified date and time.

• The owners of the carts must accept the carts when returned by the City or the agent of the City, regardless of the condition of the carts.

• The owners of the carts shall pay a fee of $40 per cart returned to them by the City or the agent of the City.

Based on our research and on the City's limited resources, we recommend that the City engage a private company as the City's agent for cart retrieval, possible storage, delivery back to the stores and collection of fees.


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Why aNew Ordinance is Needed

• In our efforts, VMID attempted to fmd ways to encourage the stores to handle this problem on their own without the need for a new ordinance.

• We had limited success, but it did not significantly impact the problem and took a massive amount of effort.

• The stores need a reasonable, but significant fmancial incentive to maintain their carts on site and swiftly retrieve those carts that get away.

• Super Target has a theft deterrence system in place, but it has not been well maintained, and they did nothing to monitor the effectiveness of their system. After numerous attempts to get the store to fix their problem, we finally got a commitment from the District Manager to take this seriously when we informed them of our intention to recommend an ordinance be passed similar to Irving's.

• Fiesta steadfastly refuses to install any theft deterrence system because they want to make it as easy as possible for their customers without cars to get their groceries home. Their solution is to have an employee drive the surrounding area to pick up the carts. However, shortly after the carts are retrieved, new ones appear. Our efforts resulted in an increase in pick-Up, but despite this increase over the last year, 25% of the carts VMID picks up continue to be from Fiesta. This system works fme for them - unless given further fmancial disincentive, they see no reason to invest further resources to keep the carts on site.

• Sam's has a new store opening next year, so they are not interested in investing in infrastructure to prevent cart theft at their current location. They have agreed to install a theft deterrence system at the new location. As we have learned from our experience with Super Target, a theft deterrence system is only effective if the store monitors it regularly. A strong and effective ordinance is the best way to encourage the store to keep their system working properly.


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Supporting the Need: The Broken Window Theory

A major factor in determining individual behavior is social norms, internalized rules about the appropriate way to act in a certain situation.

Humans constantly monitor other people and their environment in order to determine what the correct norms for the given situation are. They also monitor others to make sure that the others act in an acceptable way. In other words, people do as others do and the group makes sure that the rules are followed.

But when there are no people around, as is often the case in an anonymous urban environment, the monitoring of or by others does not work.

In such an environment, criminals are much more likely to get away with robberies, thefts and vandalism.

Individuals who want to commit crime look for signals as to what the social norms allow them to do and judge the risk of getting caught.

An ordered and clean environment sends the signal that this is a place which is monitored; people here conform to the common norms of non-criminal behavior.

A disordered environment which is littered, vandalized and not maintained sends the opposite signal: this is a place where people do as they please and where they get away with that, without being detected.


• Keeping environments clean and orderly results in deterrence of petty crime and low-level anti-social behavior

• Major crime will, as a result, be prevented.


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Comments on the Current

City of Dallas Ordinance for Shopping Carts

• The current ordinance is unenforceable.

• The ordinance gives police the authority to write tickets to those people found with carts off of store property. Police have said that they will not write tickets for many reasons, including the poverty level of those taking carts and the police department's need to concentrate on bigger crimes.

• The stores do not want to prosecute for public relations reasons.

• The ordinance gives the City the authority to collect abandoned carts, and return them to the stores in exchange for a $25 per cart recovery fee. However the city does not have the personnel to enforce this part of the ordinance.

• Code Compliance reports that the City Attorneys don't like the idea of holding carts because the stores might try to hold the city responsible for damage to the carts while they are in the city's possession.

• The ordinance makes it illegal for anyone other than the police or the stores to have the carts in their possession, so outside groups, like VMID, are technically violating the law when collecting carts in their area.

• A copy of this ordinance is attached.


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VMID's Study of the Shopping Carts Issue

Broad Scope of the Issue

• This is not a problem that is unique to Dallas. Many other cities have significantly reduced this problem via strong and effective ordinances.

• Abandoned carts are a problem in many areas of our city.

• This presentation:

a. Demonstrates how this problem is affecting the Vickery Meadow Improvement District as an example of this issue in Dallas.

b. Shares our research from our discussions with residents, store representatives, police & code enforcement, and representatives involved in this issue in other cities.

c. Makes a recommendation for what should be included III a new ordinance for Dallas.

The Problem in VMID

• Every day a large number of shopping carts are taken from area stores and abandoned in our district. In VMID, these carts are primarily coming from three stores - Sam's, Super Target and Fiesta.

• These carts and the additional trash that they attract make the neighborhood feel rundown, unclean and unsafe.

• In the Vickery Meadow Improvement District, this problem is epidemic. In 2008, VMID picked up almost 1500 abandoned carts. That number grew to almost 1700 abandoned carts in 2009, and is on pace to increase that number to almost 2000 carts in 2010. The problem is getting worse.


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VMID Research

In formulating our recommendation, the VMID committee:

a) Met with Assistant Police Chief Gloria Perez a City of Code Compliance District Manager Bob Curry.

b) Also met with and had further communications with representatives of the three stores - Fiesta, Sams, and Target.

c) Conducted research of this issue relating handling of these problems in other cities and states.

d) Carefully considered the concerns and communicated at length about each topic.

How Other Cities Solve This Problem

• A number of other cities have implemented ordinances with great success.

These ordinances include:

• A mandate that stores obtain cart permits, whose applications include a cart retrieval plan, which may include a working theft deterrence system.

• Requiring signage on every cart in English & Spanish that include the name of the store and wording that alerts the consumer that the carts are not to be taken from the property.

• A strong enforcement element that allows for the city or the city's agent to be able to collect any abandoned carts, and requires the store to retrieve the carts and pay a fme to get the carts back.

• Employing a private company to provide cart retrieval services as an agent for the city.

• The City of Irving has seen a 70% reduction in abandoned carts since they implemented their new ordinance in 2009. A copy of their ordinance is attached.


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Current City of Dallas Code SEC. 31-40.


(a) In this section, SHOPPING CART means any device or conveyance provided by a retail establishment for use by its customers for the transport of merchandise from the retail establishment. The term does not include a motor vehicle as defined in the Texas Transportation Code.

(b) A person commits an offense if he possesses a shopping cart at a location other than the premises of the retail establishment that owns the shopping cart.

(c) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (b) that the person was an owner, employee, or agent of the retail establishment that owns the shopping cart and was delivering, retrieving, or returning the shopping cart to the retail establishment.

(d) A retail establishment that owns a shopping cart shall affix to the shopping cart a durable, all-weather, and legible decal identifying the name, address, and telephone number of the retail establishment. The decal must also state the following in legible letters:


(e) A shopping cart recovered by the city of Dallas will be returned to the owner, as determined by the decal affixed to the shopping cart, upon payment to the city of a recovery fee of$25. (Ord.25439)


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City of Irving Code of Ordinances, Part II, Chapter 39, Article II

Sec. 39-20. - Definitions.

For the purposes of this article, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this section.

Abandoned shopping cart means any unattended shopping cart found on public property or a public right-of-way.

Director means the director of parks and building maintenance or his designee.

Owner means any person or entity within a business establishment of more than three thousand (3,000) square feet of retail floor space who owns or provides shopping carts for customer use. Owner includes, but is not limited to, the store owner, manager, on-site manager, on-duty manager, or other designated agent of a business establishment.

Premises means the entire area owned or otherwise utilized by the business establishment that provides shopping carts for use by its customers, including any parking area and pedestrian access-way between a street or roadway defined by the adjacent curb line, and the establishment. For a business establishment that is part of a shopping center or shopping complex, "premises" shall include all business establishments in the shopping area center or complex and all areas used by the customers of those businesses in common, including all parking areas, and right-of-way areas designated for use by the customers of the shopping center or complex.

Shopping cart means a basket, which is mounted on wheels or a similar device, generally used in a retail establishment by a customer to transport goods of any kind.

(Ord. No. 2009-9097, § 2, 7-23-09)

Sec. 39-21. - Permit required.

It shall be unlawful for an owner to suffer, allow, permit, or maintain shopping carts on the premises, without obtaining a shopping cart permit for that premises.

(Ord. No. 2009-9097, § 2, 7-23-09)

Sec. 39-22. - Application and permit fee.

(a) An owner of a business establishment shall apply annually for a shopping cart permit by submitting a written application to the director. The application shall contain the following:

(1) The name, telephone number, facsimile number, and business or residence address of each owner; and, if the owner is a corporation, whether foreign or domestic, the name of the registered agent of the owner and the telephone number and facsimile number and business or residence address of the registered agent, to include the street name and number, office or suite number, city, state, and zip code.

(2) Street address of the business establishment, and a description of the shopping complex premises.

(3) The name or title, phone number, and e-mail address for a person who is available at any time the business establishment is open to the public; and is able to respond within four (4) hours after notification to retrieve a shopping cart found off the premises.

(4) A description and graphic of a distinctive color scheme and identifying marks to be utilized by the owner on each cart.

(5) Any change of ownership or information provided in the application shall require the purchaser or permit holder to update the information provided under subsection (a) of this section and to file the updated information with the director within thirty (30) days of the change.

(b) The fee for a shopping cart permit for each store location shall be one hundred dollars ($100.00), payable to the City of Irving, and must accompany the application.


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(c) A shopping cart permit is valid for one (1) year from the date of issuance. Permits are nontransferable to different owners.

(d) Compliance with the requirements of this section shall be deemed to meet the requirements of §§ 250.003 and 250.004 of the Texas Local Government Code.

(Ord. No. 2009-9097, § 2, 7-23-09)

Sec. 39-23. - Shopping cart requirements.

(a) Each shopping cart shall meet the following requirements:

(1) Have a color scheme or identifying mark distinctive from carts at other premises. An exception to this section is provided for stores which are part of a chain, and are doing business under the same name. Such stores may have similar or identical color schemes or identifying marks. Shopping cart color schemes or identifying marks must be designed in such a way to provide a contrasting background and, if letters are used, be legible and at least one (1) inch in height.

(2) Have a warning visibly displayed on each cart, in both English and Spanish, which advises users not to remove the shopping cart from the premises and a notice to the public warning that unauthorized use by a person other than the owner is punishable by law.

(b) It shall be unlawful for an owner to suffer, allow, permit, or maintain a shopping cart on the premises which does not meet the requirements of this section.

(Ord. No. 2009-9097, § 2, 7-23-09)

Sec. 39-24. - Owner responsibilities.

(a) At any time the business establishment is closed to the public or other customers, the owner shall remove all shopping carts from remote premise storage areas, and place them in a centralized storage area adjacent to the store building. All carts in such storage areas shall be secured from unauthorized removal.

(b) Upon notification that a shopping cart has been found at a location other than the premises, the owner shall arrange to have the shopping cart returned to the premises within four (4) hours. (c) If a shopping cart has been impounded by the city, the owner shall redeem the shopping cart, on a quarterly basis, from the designated city storage facility at such preapproved times and dates as designated by the director. The set fee for retrieval of shopping carts stored by the city shall be forty dollars ($40.00) per cart. At the discretion of the city, an owner may make arrangements to pick up a shopping cart from the designated city storage facility at a time other than the preapproved scheduled retrieval. The set fee for such nonscheduled cart redemption service shall be fifty dollars ($50.00) per cart.

(d) It shall be unlawful for the owner to fail to perform any responsibility as designated by this section.

(Ord. No. 2009-9097, § 2, 7-23-09)

Sec. 39-25. - City possession and disposal of abandoned shopping carts.

(a) Any abandoned shopping cart, found off store premises, may be picked up by the city.

(b) Shopping carts which are clearly marked and identified as required in this article, but not located on the premises may be picked up by city forces in accordance with law.

(c) The director shall attempt to notify owner of the location of an abandoned shopping cart clearly marked and identified in accordance with this article and allow the owner to retrieve the shopping cart within the times stated in section 39-24, before the city takes possession of the shopping cart. However, at the sole discretion of the director, the city may take possession of any shopping cart found off premise without attempting to notify the owner. Carts covered under this provision include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) Carts without identifying cart ownership markings; (2) Carts located in a drainage facility;


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(3) Damaged or unusable carts;

( 4) Carts that pose a hazard to vehicles or pedestrians; or

(5) Any other situation or circumstance which the city deems it necessary to retrieve a cart found off store premises.

The director's failure to provide initial notice shall not affect the owner's obligation to retrieve a cart from the city storage facility and pay the appropriate fee.

(d) Upon taking possession of any shopping cart clearly marked and identified in accordance with this article, the director shall:

(1) Hold the shopping cart at the city storage facility, and

(2) Give written notice to the owner as identified on the shopping cart permit application at least thirty (30) days in advance of the date and time when the shopping cart may be retrieved.

(e) The city may auction, recycle, or dispose as waste any carts remaining unclaimed thirty (30) days after written notice is given to owner. Any cart damaged to the extent it cannot roll, or carts not clearly marked with identification as required by this section may be disposed by the city at any time.

(Ord. No. 2009-9097, § 2, 7-23-09)

Sec. 39-26. - Revocation of permit.

The city manager or the manager's designee shall have the power, after notice to an owner and after affording an opportunity for a hearing, to revoke a shopping cart permit for unreasonable and repetitive violations of this article.

(Ord. No. 2009-9097, § 2, 7-23-09)

Sec. 39-27. - Penalty.

Any person violating or failing to comply with any provision of this article shall be fmed upon conviction, not less than one dollar ($1.00) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500.00). Each day in which a violation exists shall constitute a separate offense. In addition, each shopping cart in violation shall constitute a separate offense.

(Ord. No. 2009-9097, § 2, 7-23-09)


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