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Savannah leaders move forward with abandoned shopping cart ordinance

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After meetings with shopping cart stakeholders in Savannah, city leaders are moving forward with an abandoned shopping cart ordinance with no changes to the original draft. (Credit: Josie Gregory)

After meetings with shopping cart stakeholders in Savannah, city leaders are moving forward with an abandoned shopping cart ordinance with no changes to the original draft. However, Alderman Julian Miller has questions about the fees.

"If someone steals something from your yard, you file the charges, the police will help you, police will arrest them. You file the charges, you testify in court, the merchants don't want to do that," Miller said.

Under the currently drafted ordinance, the city will hold businesses that have 10 or more shopping carts accountable if one of their carts is found in a neighborhood. The city will require businesses to turn in a cart retrieval plan, tag all of their carts, and follow through with their retrieval plan.

This applies even if someone else takes a cart off of the property, which is illegal.

"In citizen's minds, they're not really stealing, they're just borrowing it. They're just wanting to take home and they're just not thinking you need to take it back," said Margaret Williams, Savannah's Customer Service Administrator.

If a shopping cart is found, the city will notify the business. The ordinance allows the business owner 72 hours to retrieve it. If the owner does not and the city has to, the business will be fined up to $500 and charged a $375 retrieval fee. If there are more than one of the business' carts found in the same round-up, each additional cart is a $125 fee.

Miller thinks the initial $375 fee is too high and proposed a $100 fee instead.

"The point is get their attention. I think $100 gets it. It doesn't slap them in the face," he said.

Alderman Brian Foster and Alderwoman Estella Shabazz liked the idea, and believe the $375 fee is fair.

Alderman Tony Thomas said the high fee may encourage businesses to come up with ways to get their shoppers to return carts on their own.

Miller agreed with Thomas' statement.

"If it's $1 to return a cart, or even 50 cents to return a cart, there are people that will go get those carts and take them in for the money," he said.

In other places across the country with similar laws, businesses use electronic wheel locks and quarter deposits to deter people from taking shopping carts from the property.

The ordinance will go for a reading before City Council on Nov. 21. Changes can be made up until then.

If the ordinance passes, the rules will go into effect in January.