Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mayor Bans Shopping Carts

San Francisco may be on the verge of becoming the first city in the country to ban shopping carts because they assist the homeless and hinders quality-of-life outreach programs.

Some experts say the carts are one of the biggest obstacles to outreach programs in the city.

By making sidewalks less profitable and less hospitable, Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to hopes to usher more homeless off the streets and into shelters like Glide Memorial Church banishing shopping carts, baby carriages and cardboard boxes from the city once and for all.

What it takes in retrieving, and the cost to replace these carts, begs the larger question: what are we going to do about the homeless and the economic and health adverse effects on our community?
Newsom's proposal calls on grocers to use an assigned number of carts indoors only and with full-service valet from check stand to curbside. Merchants would be subject to unannounced city audits and fined for each cart under their quota or recovered off property.

But the proposal is vigorously opposed by the grocery industry. Peter Larkin, president of the California Grocers Association, says his member stores already have an active security program.

"In our opinion, it will frustrate our efforts to continue to reduce, re-use and recycle carry-out bags," Larkin said. "Second, it will raise the cost of doing business for us, which will translate into increased costs for the consumers.

What is not in dispute is the potential domino effect if San Francisco bans grocery carts. Larkin says he expects a potential ban here would significantly hurt the recycling industry. Shopping carts have already been outlawed in South Africa, London and Ireland.

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