The City of Savannah is looking at creating a shopping cart ordinance that would penalize stores for having their shopping carts left abandoned in neighborhoods.
"A shopping cart belongs in the parking lot of the store where it should be," Margaret Williams, Savannah's Customer Service Administrator, said.
Williams said, in the past few months, residents have been complaining to the city about the growing number of shopping carts left on sidewalks and at bus stops.
"It becomes an eyesore and contributes to blight we find in our neighborhoods," she said.
The city succeeded in an effort four years ago to get shopping carts off the streets and back at stores, but has now become a problem again.
"For a while, it got better, but it's become to a point where we need to put some teeth behind what do we want our communities to look like," she said.
Currently, there are no regulations or penalties for merchants' shopping carts left in neighborhoods. However, Savannah leaders now want more accountability.
At a meeting with merchants Tuesday, the city laid out a draft of the "Abandoned Shopping Cart Ordinance."
The proposed ordinance would require stores with 10 or more shopping carts to come up with a cart retrieval plan and submit it to the city. Stores would also be required to label their shopping carts to differentiate between stores.
"It has to be labeled with the store's name; it has to give us the store manager or store owner and a contact number that we can notify them if shopping carts are found," Williams said.
Under the ordinance, the city would fine merchants up to $500 if a cart is found. They would notify the merchant that the cart needs to be retrieved. If the store cannot or does not, the city will then charge the merchant $375 to pick up and take the cart back. The city will also charge $175 for each additional cart belonging to the same merchant in the same roundup.
"We are not trying to be punitive, we just want our city clean," Williams said.
However, merchants were not happy about the penalties. They said, in the meeting, the issue is not them abandoning the carts. They said the issue is people taking the carts and leaving them in neighborhoods.
City staff said they will look into what they can do on their end for enforcement of stealing carts, but told merchants it may be a store security issue they would have to address individually.
City leaders hope to pass the ordinance next month and begin implementation at the beginning of next year.
If the ordinance does pass, in January, stores will have 60 days to submit their cart retrieval plan to the city.
If you, as a merchant, could not make the meeting with the city Tuesday, there is another meeting scheduled for Monday, Oct. 30 at the Live Oak Public Library at 14097 Abercorn Street. The meeting will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.