A solution to the Santa Ana shopping cart problem

I do my best thinking, for whatever reason, when I am waking up in the shower every morning – and today was no exception. I think I may have come up with an easy solution to the shopping cart problem in Santa Ana. A friend of mine has been trying to reason with me that a lot of folks need to use the carts in order to get their groceries home. And he’s right. There is no getting around the fact that a lot of poor people in my city don’t have cars and lugging dozens of bags of groceries home is a real hardship. So let’s start by allowing them to do exactly that.

The caveat would be that they would have to sign a waiver of liability form at the store, taking the store and the city off the hook should the get hurt while using the cart. Secondly, they would have to pay a $5 deposit and would then be issued a receipt. The cart would be numbered, and the receipt would note that number. If they returned the cart before the next morning, they would get back their money. Otherwise they would lose their deposit – and here’s the kicker, they would then be reported to the police, having effectively stolen the cart.

Administering the program would not be a big deal – all the forms should be easy to output from any cash register that is computerized. The security guards who already work at the stores could easily keep an eye out for folks taking carts – and sign them up for the deposit program on the spot.

The beauty of this plan is that the family that takes the cart does not necessarily have to bring it back. Anyone can. However, if you don’t have the receipt you will only get back half the deposit. The rest of the deposit will be kept by the store – reimbursing them in part for the cost of running the program. What this means is that any enterprising teenager, or homeless guy who will “work for food,” can pick up an abandoned cart, and bring it back to the store it belongs to, and get paid for it. A family could also let someone else, a friend or neighbor, return it, and if they have been given the receipt, they get $5 that they can spend any way they want to.

So there you go – decriminalize the shopping cart issue, make it easy to take and return a cart legally, and the problem is resolved. Now we can roll up our sleeves and start solving the real problems in our city – our horrifying lack of libraries, the disrepair of our roads and parks, etc.

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.