Shopping Carts Litter the Streets of Irvine

The increasing amount of abandoned shopping carts has caught the eyes of Irvine city officials. Last month during the March city council meeting, city officials pledged to take a stand against this public nuisance and an ordinance was passed to establish regulations relating neglected shopping carts.

The problem was first brought to city officials’ attention last July and, after eight months of discussions, developed a report that was presented to the council by Eric Tolles, Deputy Director of Community Development. Tolles described the growing presence of abandoned shopping carts along the streets of the city as well as the problem the carts posed for the community.

“Well-landscaped and uncluttered streetscapes are part of the value and quality of life that Irvine residents enjoy,” said Tolles as he read off of his 20-page report, which also included an extensive definition of “shopping cart.” As he spoke, dramatic images of abandoned shopping carts near OCTA bus stops and apartment complexes were projected as part of the accompanying PowerPoint slideshow.

A number of measures, including distribution of educational brochures to apartment managers and storeowners, have been taken over the past year to try and reduce the number of abandoned shopping carts. However, there has been little change; the danger keeps growing.

Tolles listed a number of statistics regarding shopping carts and shopping cart retrievals – numbers meant to shock and scare city officials, a tactic that worked as officials passed the ordinance after an intense hour-long discussion.

Councilman Steven Choi voiced opposition for the ordinance, saying that the economy was not in the right place at the moment to afford the extra expense. Instead, he proposed a campaign that would inspire Irvine citizens to keep the city beautiful. Included in the campaign would be tasteful bumper stickers and signs conforming to the tan-and-dark-tan Irvine apartment color code.

Choi also brought up the “small mom-and-pop stores” that would suffer under this ordinance if they did not have the extra employees to spare to retrieve shopping carts. However, the lack of mom-and-pop stores in Irvine caused Choi’s concerns to be overlooked.

Senior Vice President Michael LeBlanc from the Irvine Company also expressed concern about the timing of the ordinance, but ultimately shrugged and allowed the council to continue their discussion. The Irvine Company is the retail estate company that owns most of Irvine and its surrounding cities, as well as the Irvine Chamber of Commerce. Donald Bren, chairman and sole shareholder of the Irvine Company, was not present for public comment.

Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang voiced his support of the ordinance, agreeing that the increased visiblity of shopping carts on the streets has been a growing problem. “I just saw a couple of them today on Barranca and Culver,” he said, shaking his head.

A suggestion for reducing the abandonment of shopping carts encouraged citizens to invest in their own personal folding carts. One councilwoman, however, noted that the amount of students involved in the shopping cart chaos would render it difficult to encourage extra spending on personal carts.

Concerned UCI students have also noticed the hazardous problem. “They’re everywhere,” one student, who pleaded to remain anonymous, said. “It’s not safe.”

Though two council members voted in opposition of the ordinance, the majority voted in favor. With more money being spent on cart retrieval services, city officials and Irvine citizens are hopeful that a change will be made.

To report a stray shopping cart, please contact California Shopping Cart Retrieval Services at 1-800-252-4613 and leave a detailed message regarding the location of the cart including the city where the cart is located.

Note: This story is written in a satirical manner, but its content is entirely true.