The City of Madras is proposing a new restriction on shopping carts that would fine grocery stores for carts stolen off their property. Many of those carts are ending up near homeless camps.
Stores in Madras who spoke to Central Oregon Daily Tuesday agree there’s a problem, but there’s no consensus on how to fix it.
“We’ve had close to probably 70 to 100 carts stolen in the last two years,” Ericksons Thriftway co-manager Kevin Eidemiller said. “At least once a week to every other week, we go hunting for our own carts.”
The City contacted grocery stores late last year requesting action to keep carts on property.
“When we started to see the relationship between shopping carts not being kept on the retailer’s property and then being used in ways that weren’t intended, we thought we needed to start figuring out a way to solve this problem,” Madras Community Development Director Nicholas Snead said.
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It says there’s been no improvement, leading to a new proposal.
“If the shopping cart is not on the property, it’s a $100 offense,” Snead said.
“If you have your own private property, you shouldn’t be fined for it being taken off your own premise. It seems pretty excessive,” Eidemiller said.
For Ericksons Thriftway, a mom-and-pop grocery store in the heart of town, there isn’t a quick fix.
“We looked at interlocking systems to try to keep them in our parking lots and they are highly costly. We just can’t simply afford to be able to do so,” Eidemiller said.
Is the proposed solution fair to grocery stores?
“Well, I don’t know that it’s fair. I think it’s a complex problem,” Snead said.
The city is holding an open house Monday to discuss ideas with retailers. Eidemiller would like to see them approach what he sees as the root cause.
“Once we can figure out a way for a homelessness to stop, which I think is what the city’s biggest issue is, then I think it will all ease up and then there won’t be any shopping carts (taken),” Eidemiller said. “We didn’t have this problem until we’ve had so much homeless.”
“Ideally, the city wouldn’t adopt these regulations that we’ve come up with a solution that both the retailers, city staff and community can get behind… that would be certainly ideal for everyone,” Snead said.
Monday’s open house is 2:00-3:30 p.m. at City Hall in the City Council Chambers located at 125 SW E Street.