Task force will take on shopping carts

Left in washes, parks, alleys, they've spurred complaints to city
2013-02-06T00:00:00Z 2013-02-06T09:19:01Z Task force will take on shopping cartsDarren DaRonco Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

If you feel overwhelmed by the glut of abandoned shopping carts clogging Tucson's parks and neighborhood washes, the City Council has created a task force to respond to the problem and is soliciting members.

After hearing complaints from residents, the council voted unanimously to form a panel of residents and city officials to study ways to tackle this nuisance.

While the problem is citywide, it's most pronounced in the Midvale Park area and surrounding neighborhoods, said Mike Taylor, secretary of the Midvale Park Neighborhood Association.

"We've always known we've had a problem," Taylor said. "But when we adopted the parks and washes, we realized how bad it was. We also realized that no one was responsible for taking care of it."

Taylor said he counted over 300 abandoned carts in his area last year.

"And that's not all of them, just the ones we counted," he said.

Taylor said he and his neighbors have been in a protracted struggle with retailers and the city over the issue and decided to contact Councilwoman Regina Romero for help.

The city lacks a consistent policy when it comes to picking up carts, Romero said.

That needs to change so neighborhoods can be free of these metal and plastic eyesores that litter bus stops, parks and other public places.

But change might be harder than it it might seem, said City Attorney Mike Rankin.

Rankin said state law regulates shopping carts and what cities can do with them. He said any new ordinance would have to align with existing law.

However, he said other Arizona cities have passed ordinances that fight shopping carts within state guidelines.

Rankin suggested the committee could follow the example of the Phoenix suburb of Peoria, which passed a law in 2008 requiring retailers to install electronic devices to prevent their carts from being removed from their premises, to contract with a licensed cart retrieval company. The measure also imposes fines of up to $500 and jail time of up to 30 days for customers who remove a cart from the site.

But Romero said Peoria's example might be a little bit too heavy-handed for Tucson.

She said the committee shouldn't look at outside examples in the beginning. Instead, she wants them to come up with a solution that's the right fit for Tucson, and that doesn't break the bank.

"I want them to find a good win-win for Tucson," Romero said.

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or ddaronco@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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