A Fort Worth ordinance that seeks to keep abandoned shopping carts off city streets officially took effect over the weekend.
Beginning July 1, the ordinance requires retail stores to collect shopping carts that are stolen and abandoned from their stores.
Local authorities hope the measure will help “to regulate the abatement and enforcement of nuisance carts in public areas” and protect “public streets, neighborhoods, parks and waterways,” as outlined on the city website.
The Fort Worth City Council passed the new rule in March to tackle the issue of abandoned shopping carts littering public areas, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
It differs from the June 2016 ordinance passed in neighboring Dallas, which treats abandoned shopping carts as litter and allows the City to immediately dispose of them.
The City of Fort Worth stated the two main goals of the ordinance are “to support a clean and safe community” and “to avoid impacting compliant businesses with regulations.”
Fort Worth residents can report abandoned shopping carts in various ways, including on the city’s website or by calling 817-392-1234. The MyFW app can also be downloaded and used to report carts as well.
Once identified, businesses or their agents will have 24 hours to collect the shopping carts without incurring a fine. If they do not retrieve their shopping carts within the initial period, businesses will then have “the option to recover carts for a fee of $50 per cart from a convenient City Drop-Off Station within a period of 30 calendar days.”
Not all shopping carts are subject to fines, as any shopping cart with a “functioning wheel-lock installed” will be exempt.
A business that has over 15 carts stolen and reported abandoned within a six-month period may be required to follow a Shopping Cart Control Plan. The plan “may consist of sensor-based wheel locks or additional cart corrals, etc. to address the business’ needs.”
Gary Huddleston, a grocery industry consultant for the Texas Retailers Association, told the Fort Worth Report (FWR) that some retail stores have already implemented wheel locks.
“We do appreciate the fact the city has recognized the efforts of retailers to prevent the unauthorized removal by installing the cart theft prevention systems and has in the ordinance a defense for those retailers who have invested in this system,” said Huddleston, per FWR.
While the city hopes the new ordinance will reduce the number of shopping cart abandonments, some Fort Worth residents believe the solution does not get to the root of the problem.
“Addressing the shopping cart situation is like addressing the falling leaves in the fall,” Sergio Garza, a Fort Worth resident, told FWR. “We are experiencing an increase in homelessness in Fort Worth. If the homelessness is addressed, shopping cart issues disappear.”
Homelessness has continued to rise in the areas near Fort Worth. The Tarrant County Homeless Coalition reported a 14% increase in homelessness during Q1 of 2023.
Homelessness and vagrancy are likewise on the rise in neighboring Dallas. A recent report from the mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness, Organizations, Policies, and Encampments (HOPE) released on June 30 found that “Dallas has seen significant increases in homelessness, especially unsheltered homelessness over the last ten years.”
Dallas recently approved allocating roughly $3 million in taxpayer funds to housing services for the homeless.