Sacramento County approves penalties for abandoned shopping carts

New ordinance not aimed at homeless residents, spokeswoman says

A new ordinance adopted by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors will require local businesses to keep tabs on their shopping carts or face harsh penalties.

The county says that abandoned carts—which it calls a “nuisance” and a “blight”—are currently retrieved by a contractor, costing taxpayers approximately $12,000 per year.

County spokeswoman Chris Andis stressed that the ordinance is only intended to cut down on the number of carts left in ditches and roadways, and won’t target homeless individuals who use them to store and move their belongings. “We are already retrieving abandoned carts and have been for quite some time,” she said. “This ordinance does not apply to people using carts to carry their belongings; it has to do with empty, abandoned carts left around the county. We are not going to be addressing people who use the carts for belongings.”

Darryl Rutherford, the executive director of the Sacramento Housing Alliance, a nonprofit coalition that advocates for the homeless, was unaware of the ordinance, but said that indirect barriers are becoming increasingly common for homeless residents.

“There have been a lot of proposed ordinances and regulations lately that are really targeting those who are experiencing homelessness. … Targeting one specific population without explicitly saying so,” Rutherford said, calling out Regional Transit's recent failed attempt to ban RT riders for “noxious odors.”

“Instead of looking to further criminalize homelessness, they need to look for solutions,” he added.