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Monday, December 17 , 2018, 7:19 am | Overcast 53º


Lompoc Considers City Ordinance to Corral Abandoned Shopping Carts

Lompoc City Council members approved a new ordinance Tuesday night they hope will reduce the number of abandoned shopping carts littering streets and alleyways. 

The ordinance would require retail stores to develop a plan to prevent the unauthorized removal of their shopping carts from the premises and to bear the cost of retrieving their abandoned carts.

“We’ve got a problem in the city with abandoned shopping carts … in various neighborhoods that end up sitting there sometimes for weeks at a time. That’s not a desirable situation,” City Manager Patrick Wiemiller said.

Wiemiller said the proposed ordinance was developed after reviewing similar ordinances of 30 California cities.

“We’re trying to take an approach that would be a balanced approach. We’re still trying to be business friendly but bring about business accountability.”

After some council members said business owners should have been directly involved in the development of the ordinance, the second reading — and final vote — of the ordinance was delayed two weeks until August so city staff can notify those businesses that would be affected.

Councilman Jim Mosby argued that the ordinance puts too much burden on store owners.

“I believe some of the burden is on the people who are taking the carts and we seem to be dodging that significantly in this ordinance,” Mosby said.

Wiemiller said it was  “a social choice” to put the onus on store owners to manage their property.

“There are definitely some social impacts, pushbacks, that occur if we start targeting our enforcement on the person in possession of the cart as opposed to the owner,” he said.

Lompoc Police Chief Pat Walsh said trying to issue citations and collect fines from people who take shopping carts and later abandon them would be difficult.

“I would say store owners aren’t willing victims because it creates administrative work and possible court time for them,” Walsh said.

Councilman Dirk Starbuck asked to delay taking any action and voted against the proposed ordinance, saying “it was far more than what I thought we were going to get into here.” 

Mayor Bob Lingl and Councilman Victor Vega said the city should act proactively to address the issue of abandoned and review the results in six months.

“I’m in favor of adopting an ordinance instead of getting in the business of collecting shopping carts. I think it’s fairly simple to adopt an ordinance that says everyone is responsible for their own carts,” Vega said.

In other business, the council approved $136,768 of general fund budget reserves to upgrade computer servers and storage capacity for retaining videos from new dashboard cameras in police vehicles. 

The request for additional funds was approved 5-0, but not without a rebuke from a council member.

“So far, this is the third comeback on this from the budget,” Starbuck said, noting it was the third request for supplemental funds beyond the original appropriation for the new dashboard cameras. 

“We obviously blew this in the budget in the beginning.”

Noozhawk contributing writer Carol Benham can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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