Heavy Meddle

May 21, 2012

Heavy Meddle
Because there are no problems in California and there are dumptrucks of extra money rolling up every day to Sacramento, and because LA is in a similar position, our City Council members have taken on the problem of wandering shopping carts. No, this is not a piece from The Onion but from the LA Times op-ed page:

Now the City Council has unanimously passed, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has signed into law, an ordinance that will actually require all new stores with more than six shopping carts to include locking wheels — or carts with tall vertical poles that bang up against barriers, or a grocery-lugging attendant, or some other way to ensure that carts don’t end up on streets as a kind of portable urban blight. The Planning Department is under orders to study, as soon as any money turns up in city coffers, how to require existing stores to also keep their carts on the premises.

Like a broken window that goes unrepaired, abandoned shopping carts are a problem and lend a depressing, transient air to a street. Any ideas about wrangling them ought to be considered. But really, a law mandating that stores erect barriers or provide carry-out service? Aren’t there already too few grocery stores in many parts of town? Does city government really need to devise another reason for a company not to build a new store? City Hall should be making it easier and less costly to build and operate a market, not adding more burdens.

Besides, it’s in the markets’ best interest to police their costly runaway carts, and in fact it is the grocery chains’ association that pays for those roving trucks that pick them up. They are better and faster at collecting carts than the city is at responding to complaints about other junk. Maybe we need to require locking devices on old couches.

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