The time of unrestricted shopping cart usage in Hollister is coming to an end as city leaders move to adopt an ordinance that regulates the grocery store staple as a way to counter blight.
The council conducted a first reading of the ordinance at its Monday meeting.
“It’s important to know that we want to work with the businesses as partners and the residents,” said Mayor Ignacio Velazquez. “The goal here is not to penalize businesses or residents, it’s to make sure we don’t have abandoned carts throughout the city.”
The ordinance will establish rules and regulations for businesses that use shopping carts, like Target and Nob Hill, so they maintain carts within their property.
City Attorney Soren Diaz told council members the ordinance would remove blight from different locations in the city, including parks, streets and alleys.
He highlighted a section that provided the “teeth” to enforce the ordinance.
“This provides that it will be unlawful for any person to do any of the following, including: removing the shopping cart from the business premises, being in possession of a shopping cart that’s been removed from the business premises with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the owner,” Diaz said. “Also, tampering with shopping carts, including removing serial numbers from them, or any information. Then also using and possessing them or leaving them at public parks, sidewalks, alleys and streets.”
Any person or business that violates the ordinance could be subject to enforcement procedures, including prosecution of a misdemeanor or infraction, civil action for injunction, administrative citations and the revocation of a use permit.
“I think this is going to go a long ways towards removing the unlawful use of shopping carts in locations other than business establishments that use them and provide them for their customers,” Diaz said.
Councilman Jim Gillio brought up concern over how the ordinance could affect small businesses and asked to see some outreach.
Vice Mayor Karson Klauer wondered how people using shopping carts outside of business premises would be notified of the ordinance.
“Do we have a plan to let people who have these carts know that they’ll no longer be able to have them?” Klauer asked.
City Manager Bill Avera said he could work with code enforcement officers to provide some sort of notice when they come into contact with people using carts.
Councilwoman Mickie Luna asked if it was possible to send a notice out to residents in water bills.
“Sometimes you see shopping carts in front of people’s homes,” Luna said. “Sometimes you do see them in residential.”
Avera said that was possible.
Resident Preston Artman asked Diaz if there was a cost analysis behind the ordinance and he wondered what effect it would have on seniors and others with fixed incomes.
“There’s already laws in place at the state level,” Diaz said. “This is a primary concern of the legislature. So the laws the city is enacting at this time are conducive and complimentary to laws that are already in place at the legislature level.”
While Artman protested Diaz’s response, Councilman Ray Friend tried to ease tensions.
“They’re already charging people more to replace the carts stolen from them,” Friend said. “I hear what you’re saying, but I think they’re already charging people for the carts they’re losing.”
The first reading passed with a unanimous 5-0 vote.
The ordinance is expected to be adopted during a second reading at a future meeting. It would go into effect 180 days after adoption.