At the recent March meeting of the Mira Mesa Town Council, a concerned resident stood before the group to voice her dismay on an issue that has plagued the town for years -- abandoned shopping carts. Although a number of measures have been put in place to help resolve the problem, shopping carts continue to be strewn across the quiet residential streets of the area, often more than a mile from the main shopping thoroughfare, Mira Mesa Boulevard.
“These carts are just graffiti on wheels,” said Terry Forshey of San Diegans Against Abandoned Shopping Carts (SDAASC), a neighborhood action group formed by residents in 2006. “The City of San Diego has an ordinance to address graffiti, but none to address abandoned shopping carts.” The reasons behind the shopping-cart thefts vary. “Some are cases where lack of vehicles to provide transportation are a factor,” according to Forshey. “Others push carts up their driveways, past parked vehicles that could have been used to transport goods home.”
Although the theft of a shopping cart is a misdemeanor, the law is rarely enforced. Forshey says that the SDPD doesn’t address the dilemma and that abandoned carts become depositories for trash and food waste and make it difficult for disabled residents to use the sidewalks. Bus stops on the streets around Mira Mesa Boulevard are often crowded with abandoned carts.
The SDAASC worked together with former councilmember Brian Maienschein to create a citywide abandoned-shopping-cart ordinance, but Maienschein was termed out of office in December of 2008 without an ordinance in place.
“We have been continuing our efforts through his successor, councilmember Carl DeMaio,” says Forshey. “We are currently juggling between keeping the residents patient and encouraging the city officials to act. We plan to stay on course until it becomes evident that there is no will in the city to provide relief. At that point we will have to let the residents succumb to their impatience and do what they will.”
Jeff Stevens, president of the Mira Mesa Town Council, notes that the shopping-cart problem is a frequent concern in the community. “It is an issue that comes up often,” he says. “The town council as well as the previous and current city council offices and San Diegans Against Abandoned Shopping Carts have been trying to do something about it for several years now, but it has proven surprisingly difficult to resolve.”
Councilmember Carl DeMaio echoes Stevens’s belief regarding the significance of the problem. “I consider the shopping cart problem to be one of the most important issues facing the Mira Mesa community,” he says. “Working closely with the community, my office is pursuing options to remedy the problem through the city, as well as exploring public-private partnerships with the community and local businesses.”