Shopping cart

Santa Barbara’s new shopping cart ordinance imposes on business owners

The proliferation of abandoned shopping carts reached enough critical mass that the Santa Barbara City Council saw fit to pass an ordinance declaring them a public nuisance and a potential health and safety hazard. On Tuesday, the council put the finishing touches to a measure that imposes containment of errant shopping carts on business owners who own them.

Under the new order, business owners will be required to secure their carts and effectively mark devices with the business name and a phone number where the owner can be reached.

Additionally, businesses will be required to submit abandoned cart prevention plans. These plans should describe the employee training programs the owner intends to put in place to prevent carts from leaving the premises.

Although the language of the ordinance does not mention the homeless, the proliferation of shopping carts on streets, sidewalks and other public spaces clearly coincides with an increase in the number of homeless people in those same spaces. The new ordinance will not empower city officials to seize shopping carts of homeless people, but it will allow them to seize unattended carts left in places that ‘could impede emergency services’ or where there are no has no identification of owners on “unattended” carts.

In 2020, city employees picked up 538 shopping carts. The year before, the number was 20. The year before, it was 32.