Shopping Carts

In response to concerns from residents regarding abandoned shopping carts throughout the city (mostly downtown), I took draft legislation written by former Alderperson Eddie Rooker and working with City Forester Jeanne Grace (whose department somehow ends up dealing with abandoned shopping carts), revised it to address longstanding frustrations she’s had with shopping cart management.

Highlights of the code changes include:

  • Shopping carts must identify the owner of the shopping cart 
  • Owners who provide more than 25 shopping carts to customers must display on their carts a phone number for initiating retrieval of the cart
  • Owners with more than 25 shopping carts must have a containment program (e.g.: wheel locks, deposit, security guard) and retrieval service for shopping carts
  • Owners with more than 25 shopping carts must display warnings on the premises about unauthorized shopping cart removal and a phone number for shopping cart retrieval
  • The City’s Department of Public Works may seize shopping carts and return them to the shopping cart owner at a fine of $50 per cart per day after the owner has been notified

Status: Under study by Community Life Commission

An ordinance repealing and replacing the text of Chapter 268, “Shopping Carts.”

WHEREAS the City of Ithaca has a legitimate government interest in preventing the proliferation of abandoned shopping carts within its boundaries;

WHEREAS Chapter 268 of the City of Ithaca Municipal Code, “Shopping Carts,” establishes regulations, standards, and fines intended to act as a reasonable deterrent to the problem of abandoned shopping carts;

WHEREAS Common Council and city staff have identified changes to Chapter 268 that are believed to better promote the goals of this Chapter in a more efficient and effective manner; and now therefore

BE IT ORDAINED AND ENACTED by the Common Council of the City of Ithaca as follow:

Section 1. Findings of Fact.

The Common Council finds that:

  1. Abandoned shopping carts create potential hazard to health and safety of the public, and interfere with pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and the accumulation of abandoned carts on public and private property create conditions that reduce property values, promote blight and deterioration, and result in a public nuisance.
  2. Owners of shopping carts should develop programs that contain their shopping carts on their respective business premises and be held responsible for failing to do so.
  3. It is, therefore, desirous to replace the text of Chapter 268 with updated regulations that will require such programs and enable adequate enforcement, thereby better combating the nuisance and blight created by abandoned shopping carts.

Section 2. Amendment of Chapter 268, “Shopping Carts.”

The text of Chapter 268, entitled “Shopping Carts,” of the City of Ithaca Municipal Code is hereby repealed in its entirety and replaced with the following:

§ 268-1 Definitions.

For purposes of this Chapter only, and unless the context clearly requires a different meaning, the words, terms and phrases set forth in this Section are defined as follows:

A. “Business premises” means the interior of a shopping cart owner’s commercial establishment, adjacent walkways, any loading area, and the parking area, as defined herein.

B.  “Shopping cart identification sign” means a sign or engraved surface which is permanently affixed to a shopping cart containing all of the information specified in Section 268-2 of this Chapter.

C.  “Shopping cart removal warning” means a placard, sign or painted text which meets the requirements of Section 268-4 of this Chapter.

D.  “Shopping cart owner” means the owner or operator of a commercial establishment which provides shopping carts for use by its customers for the purpose of transporting goods of any kind.

E.  “Shopping cart containment program” means one or more of the following measures:

1.   Disabling devices on all shopping carts which prevent them from being removed from the business premises by locking the wheels or otherwise preventing the movement of the shopping carts.

2.   An on-site security guard to deter customers who attempt to remove shopping carts from the business premises.

3.   Obtaining a security deposit from customers for the on-site use of shopping carts. 

5.   Any other measure approved by the Superintendent of Public Works as a means to contain shopping carts on premises. A shopping cart owner may appeal a measure disapproved by the Superintendent of Public Works to the Board of Public Works for a final determination.

G. “Shopping cart retrieval service” means contracting with a third-party or establishing an internal mechanism that will both actively locate shopping carts within a one-mile radius of the cart owner’s business premises and respond to complaints from the public in a manner which results in the retrieval of shopping carts within twenty-four (24) hours after receiving complaints.

F. “Parking area” means a parking lot or other property provided by a commercial establishment for use by a customer for parking an automobile or other vehicle. In a multi-store complex or shopping center, “parking area” includes the entire parking area used by or controlled by the complex or center.

H.  “Shopping cart” means a basket which is mounted on wheels or a similar device provided by the operator of a commercial establishment for the use of customers for the purpose of transporting goods of any kind. A shopping cart sold by a commercial establishment to a retail customer for that customer’s personal use is not a shopping cart for the purposes of this Chapter.

I.    “Abandoned” means not in the physical possession of a shopping cart owner or a customer of a shopping cart owner with written permission from the shopping cart owner as specified in Section 268-6 of this Chapter. 

§ 268-2 Shopping cart identification signs for shopping carts.

A.  Every person who owns or makes available to the public in connection with the conduct of business and trade any shopping cart shall mark it or cause the same to be marked and identified conspicuously with the name of the shopping cart owner.  Every shopping cart owner with more than twenty-five (25) shopping carts shall also mark or cause the cart to be conspicuously marked to provide a name and local or toll-free telephone number of a party that is responsible for retrieval of the shopping cart. 

B.  It shall be the responsibility of each shopping cart owner to comply with Subsection (A) of this Section, and to continuously maintain, or cause to be maintained, the shopping cart identification sign so that all of the required information is accurate and clearly legible.

§ 268-3 Shopping cart containment program.

A. Every owner who provides more than twenty-five (25) shopping carts to their customers shall operate and maintain a shopping cart containment program as defined in Section 268-1 of this Chapter and shall provide a shopping cart retrieval service for any shopping carts found abandoned off of business premises.

B. Each shopping cart owner must provide the Superintendent of Public Works with the contact information for its shopping cart retrieval service.

C.  Each shopping cart owner must contain all shopping carts on the business premises at all times.

D.  Any instance in which a shopping cart owned or provided by a shopping cart owner is found abandoned off of the business premises shall be considered a violation of Subsection (C) of this Section by the shopping cart owner.

1.   Following the discovery or report of an abandoned shopping cart the Superintendent of Public Works, or his agent shall contact the shopping cart owner’s shopping cart retrieval service to provide notice of the violation and the location of the abandoned shopping cart.

2.   Each twenty-four (24) hour period that the shopping cart remains off the business premises following notice to the shopping cart owner shall be considered a separate violation of Subsection (C) of this Section.

3.   Fines shall be assessed at fifty dollars ($50) for each violation of Subsection (C) of this Section, with the first violation occurring on the discovery of an abandoned shopping cart and additional violations occurring each day the shopping cart remains off the business premises after notice of such abandoned shopping cart has been provided to the shopping cart owner.

E.  No shopping cart containment program shall be required where the owner offers the rental or sale of utility shopping carts that can be temporarily or permanently used for the transport of goods, but only so long as all shopping carts on the business premises are offered only on rental or sales terms, and not without charge.

§ 268-4 Shopping cart removal warnings.

Every owner who provides more than twenty-five (25) shopping carts shall prominently and conspicuously post and maintain shopping cart removal warnings at all entrances and exits to the shopping cart owner’s premises, including parking areas. Such warnings shall meet all of the following minimum specifications:

A.  Contain a statement to the effect that unauthorized removal of a shopping cart from the business premises, or possession of a shopping cart in a location other than on the business premises, is a violation of State and City law.

B.  List a local or toll-free telephone number for shopping cart retrieval.

C.  Be affixed to an interior wall of the building or otherwise permanently and prominently displayed within two (2) feet of all customer entrances and exits.

§ 268-5 Employee training–shopping cart removal prevention.

Each cart owner shall conduct ongoing employee training to educate new and existing employees about procedures to prevent cart removal, including the operation of the shopping cart containment system.

§ 268-6 Shopping cart removal from business premises–written permission required.

No person shall be deemed to be authorized to remove a shopping cart unless he or she possesses written authorization from the shopping cart owner. This section shall not apply the possession of a shopping cart removed from the business premises at the direction of the shopping cart owner for the purposes of repair or maintenance.

§ 268-7 Removal and possession unlawful.

It shall be unlawful for any person or his/her agent or employee to take, remove or possess any shopping cart beyond the premises of the identified owner of the shopping cart without the written permission of the identified owner.

§ 268-8 Removal and disposal of abandoned shopping carts.

A.  Removal.  The Superintendent of Public Works is hereby authorized to seize and remove or cause to be removed any abandoned shopping cart within the city from any public place without notice and from any private premises with the consent of the owner of the premises and shall take or cause the same to be returned to the shopping cart owner with notice of fine pursuant to Subsection 268-3(D) of this Chapter. The Superintendent of Public Works is authorized to call upon other city agencies or departments to assist in enforcement of this section.

B.  Disposal of unclaimed property.  When an abandoned shopping cart not containing identification of ownership as required herein is removed under Subsection (A) of this Section, the Superintendent of Public Works may dispose of the shopping cart as they see fit.  All proceeds from the disposal of abandoned shopping carts shall be deposited to the general fund of the city.

§ 268-9 Remedy not exclusive.

Nothing herein is intended to limit the city from pursuing any other remedy available at law or in equity against any person or entity maintaining, committing, or causing a public or private nuisance or any other violation of the City Code or of State or Federal law.

Section 3. Notice to affected businesses.

The City shall make reasonable efforts to notify affected businesses by mail of the aforementioned changes to Chapter 268 of the City of Ithaca Municipal Code, provided, however, that non-receipt of said notice shall not constitute a defense to any violation of this Chapter.

Section 4. Severability Clause.  

Severability is intended throughout and within the provisions of this ordinance. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, or portion of this ordinance is held to be invalid or unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, then that decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this ordinance.

Section 5. Effective Date.

This ordinance shall take effect January 1, 2019 in accordance with law upon publication of notices as provided in the Ithaca City Charter.

An ordinance repealing and replacing the text of Chapter 268, “Shopping Carts.”

WHEREAS the City of Ithaca has a legitimate government interest in preventing the proliferation of abandoned shopping carts within its boundaries;

WHEREAS Chapter 268 of the City of Ithaca Municipal Code, “Shopping Carts,” establishes regulations, standards, and fines intended to act as a reasonable deterrent to the problem of abandoned shopping carts;

WHEREAS Common Council and city staff have identified changes to Chapter 268 that are believed to better promote the goals of this Chapter in a more efficient and effective manner; and now therefore

BE IT ORDAINED AND ENACTED by the Common Council of the City of Ithaca as follow:

Section 1. Findings of Fact.

The Common Council finds that:

  1. Abandoned shopping carts create potential hazard to health and safety of the public, and interfere with pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and the accumulation of abandoned carts on public and private property create conditions that reduce property values, promote blight and deterioration, and result in a public nuisance.
  2. Owners of shopping carts should develop programs that contain their shopping carts on their respective business premises and be held responsible for failing to do so.
  3. It is, therefore, desirous to replace the text of Chapter 268 with updated regulations that will require such programs and enable adequate enforcement, thereby better combating the nuisance and blight created by abandoned shopping carts.

Section 2. Amendment of Chapter 268, “Shopping Carts.”

The text of Chapter 268, entitled “Shopping Carts,” of the City of Ithaca Municipal Code is hereby repealed in its entirety and replaced with the following:

§ 268-1 Definitions.

For purposes of this Chapter only, and unless the context clearly requires a different meaning, the words, terms and phrases set forth in this Section are defined as follows:

A. “Business premises” means the interior of a shopping cart owner’s commercial establishment, adjacent walkways, any loading area, and the parking area, as defined herein.

B.  “Shopping cart identification sign” means a sign or engraved surface which is permanently affixed to a shopping cart containing all of the information specified in Section 268-2 of this Chapter.

C.  “Shopping cart removal warning” means a placard, sign or painted text which meets the requirements of Section 268-4 of this Chapter.

D.  “Shopping cart owner” means the owner or operator of a commercial establishment which provides shopping carts for use by its customers for the purpose of transporting goods of any kind.

E.  “Shopping cart containment program” means one or more of the following measures:

1.   Disabling devices on all shopping carts which prevent them from being removed from the business premises by locking the wheels or otherwise preventing the movement of the shopping carts.

2.   An on-site security guard to deter customers who attempt to remove shopping carts from the business premises.

3.   Obtaining a security deposit from customers for the on-site use of shopping carts. 

5.   Any other measure approved by the Superintendent of Public Works as a means to contain shopping carts on premises. A shopping cart owner may appeal a measure disapproved by the Superintendent of Public Works to the Board of Public Works for a final determination.

G. “Shopping cart retrieval service” means contracting with a third-party or establishing an internal mechanism that will both actively locate shopping carts within a one-mile radius of the cart owner’s business premises and respond to complaints from the public in a manner which results in the retrieval of shopping carts within twenty-four (24) hours after receiving complaints.

F. “Parking area” means a parking lot or other property provided by a commercial establishment for use by a customer for parking an automobile or other vehicle. In a multi-store complex or shopping center, “parking area” includes the entire parking area used by or controlled by the complex or center.

H.  “Shopping cart” means a basket which is mounted on wheels or a similar device provided by the operator of a commercial establishment for the use of customers for the purpose of transporting goods of any kind. A shopping cart sold by a commercial establishment to a retail customer for that customer’s personal use is not a shopping cart for the purposes of this Chapter.

I.    “Abandoned” means not in the physical possession of a shopping cart owner or a customer of a shopping cart owner with written permission from the shopping cart owner as specified in Section 268-6 of this Chapter. 

§ 268-2 Shopping cart identification signs for shopping carts.

A.  Every person who owns or makes available to the public in connection with the conduct of business and trade any shopping cart shall mark it or cause the same to be marked and identified conspicuously with the name of the shopping cart owner.  Every shopping cart owner with more than twenty-five (25) shopping carts shall also mark or cause the cart to be conspicuously marked to provide a name and local or toll-free telephone number of a party that is responsible for retrieval of the shopping cart. 

B.  It shall be the responsibility of each shopping cart owner to comply with Subsection (A) of this Section, and to continuously maintain, or cause to be maintained, the shopping cart identification sign so that all of the required information is accurate and clearly legible.

§ 268-3 Shopping cart containment program.

A. Every owner who provides more than twenty-five (25) shopping carts to their customers shall operate and maintain a shopping cart containment program as defined in Section 268-1 of this Chapter and shall provide a shopping cart retrieval service for any shopping carts found abandoned off of business premises.

B. Each shopping cart owner must provide the Superintendent of Public Works with the contact information for its shopping cart retrieval service.

C.  Each shopping cart owner must contain all shopping carts on the business premises at all times.

D.  Any instance in which a shopping cart owned or provided by a shopping cart owner is found abandoned off of the business premises shall be considered a violation of Subsection (C) of this Section by the shopping cart owner.

1.   Following the discovery or report of an abandoned shopping cart the Superintendent of Public Works, or his agent shall contact the shopping cart owner’s shopping cart retrieval service to provide notice of the violation and the location of the abandoned shopping cart.

2.   Each twenty-four (24) hour period that the shopping cart remains off the business premises following notice to the shopping cart owner shall be considered a separate violation of Subsection (C) of this Section.

3.   Fines shall be assessed at fifty dollars ($50) for each violation of Subsection (C) of this Section, with the first violation occurring on the discovery of an abandoned shopping cart and additional violations occurring each day the shopping cart remains off the business premises after notice of such abandoned shopping cart has been provided to the shopping cart owner.

E.  No shopping cart containment program shall be required where the owner offers the rental or sale of utility shopping carts that can be temporarily or permanently used for the transport of goods, but only so long as all shopping carts on the business premises are offered only on rental or sales terms, and not without charge.

§ 268-4 Shopping cart removal warnings.

Every owner who provides more than twenty-five (25) shopping carts shall prominently and conspicuously post and maintain shopping cart removal warnings at all entrances and exits to the shopping cart owner’s premises, including parking areas. Such warnings shall meet all of the following minimum specifications:

A.  Contain a statement to the effect that unauthorized removal of a shopping cart from the business premises, or possession of a shopping cart in a location other than on the business premises, is a violation of State and City law.

B.  List a local or toll-free telephone number for shopping cart retrieval.

C.  Be affixed to an interior wall of the building or otherwise permanently and prominently displayed within two (2) feet of all customer entrances and exits.

§ 268-5 Employee training–shopping cart removal prevention.

Each cart owner shall conduct ongoing employee training to educate new and existing employees about procedures to prevent cart removal, including the operation of the shopping cart containment system.

§ 268-6 Shopping cart removal from business premises–written permission required.

No person shall be deemed to be authorized to remove a shopping cart unless he or she possesses written authorization from the shopping cart owner. This section shall not apply the possession of a shopping cart removed from the business premises at the direction of the shopping cart owner for the purposes of repair or maintenance.

§ 268-7 Removal and possession unlawful.

It shall be unlawful for any person or his/her agent or employee to take, remove or possess any shopping cart beyond the premises of the identified owner of the shopping cart without the written permission of the identified owner.

§ 268-8 Removal and disposal of abandoned shopping carts.

A.  Removal.  The Superintendent of Public Works is hereby authorized to seize and remove or cause to be removed any abandoned shopping cart within the city from any public place without notice and from any private premises with the consent of the owner of the premises and shall take or cause the same to be returned to the shopping cart owner with notice of fine pursuant to Subsection 268-3(D) of this Chapter. The Superintendent of Public Works is authorized to call upon other city agencies or departments to assist in enforcement of this section.

B.  Disposal of unclaimed property.  When an abandoned shopping cart not containing identification of ownership as required herein is removed under Subsection (A) of this Section, the Superintendent of Public Works may dispose of the shopping cart as they see fit.  All proceeds from the disposal of abandoned shopping carts shall be deposited to the general fund of the city.

§ 268-9 Remedy not exclusive.

Nothing herein is intended to limit the city from pursuing any other remedy available at law or in equity against any person or entity maintaining, committing, or causing a public or private nuisance or any other violation of the City Code or of State or Federal law.

Section 3. Notice to affected businesses.

The City shall make reasonable efforts to notify affected businesses by mail of the aforementioned changes to Chapter 268 of the City of Ithaca Municipal Code, provided, however, that non-receipt of said notice shall not constitute a defense to any violation of this Chapter.

Section 4. Severability Clause.  

Severability is intended throughout and within the provisions of this ordinance. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, or portion of this ordinance is held to be invalid or unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, then that decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this ordinance.

Section 5. Effective Date.

This ordinance shall take effect January 1, 2019 in accordance with law upon publication of notices as provided in the Ithaca City Charter.