Posted: Dec 23, 2011 6:05 PM by Ariel Wesler
With more people shopping around the holidays, abandoned carts have become a bigger problem this time of year. Workers in Santa Maria used to pick up shopping carts daily, but with budget cuts, they've scaled back to just one day a week.
Some call it the broken window effect. If you leave the carts out there, people begin to think its ok and soon more will fill the streets.
Think of him as your friendly neighborhood cart collector.
"They see me stop, they'll stop and say hi what's going on."
Alfonso Morin seeks out shopping carts scattered around Santa Maria.
"They're all over the place, sidewalks, middle of the street, middle of the medians on Broadway," Morin said.
They've become eye sores for the city.
"This right here is just like one little small section of town," Morin said.
And in a full day?
"A good 20 to 30 sometimes, sometimes even more," he said.
"It's a never ending thing."
This year alone, the city says it recovered about 3500 carts and make no mistake, keeping them for yourself is illegal.
"Unauthorized possession of this shopping cart is a violation of state law," Morin read off the cart.
He showed us some of the hot spots near bus stops and supermarkets. He says the carts can come from practically anywhere.
"Some of these are from stores we don't even have here," Morin said. They just get pushed by kids or transients or whatever and make their way from city to city somehow."
and he never knows exactly what he'll find.
"I've picked some up and they just stunk really really bad. I've found old packs of meat," he said.
If the carts are trashed, they'll go to the dump. If not, he takes them back to their rightful store.
There is also a company that contracts with local grocery stores to pick up their carts. The city says 3500 to 4000 abandoned carts is a pretty average year.
If you see abandoned shopping carts in your Santa Maria neighborhood, the city urges you to call their hotline at 925-0951 X667.
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