Fresno City Council approves new rules for shopping carts

The Fresno BeeMarch 6, 2014 

A dumped shopping cart is seen at the water's edge of the San Joaquin River north of Palm and Nees in Fresno, Monday, October 21, 2013. There is growing concern about illegal homeless encampments on the river.

CRAIG KOHLRUSS — THE FRESNO BEE Buy Photo

The Fresno City Council on Thursday took steps to fix the city's problem with abandoned shopping carts.

The council approved two amendments to the municipal code that would:

-- Ban shopping carts from city parks.

-- Reform rules for cart owners and recycling centers.

"We have multiple problems that come with shopping carts," Council President Steve Brandau said. These include blight when they're left on street corners and financial losses to the retailers whose carts are stolen.

The amendments, among other things, require owners to have legible identification signs on each cart and give the city considerable authority to impound abandoned carts.

Many carts are used by homeless people to move bottles and aluminum cans to recycling centers. The city is trying to convince the homeless to take advantage of programs to move into permanent housing.

Toward that end, the council on Thursday also approved a deal with the Fresno Housing Authority to spend $1 million on rental assistance for the homeless and those who are threatened with losing their housing.

The council also held a workshop on the regulation of recycling centers.

In other action, the council:

-- Approved a deal for the Central California Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to continue providing animal control services. The agreement goes through June 30, 2015, and is renewable annually through June 30, 2018. The cost is $3.23 million a year.

-- Conducted the city's business without Council Member Oliver Baines, who was in Washington, D.C. Baines and Fresno Democratic congressman Jim Costa are part of a bipartisan group of politicians who will go to Selma, Ala., to mark the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer and commemorate the 1965 crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

About 600 people crossed the bridge on March 7, 1965, as part of a march for voting rights. The marchers were met on the other side by state troopers. The marchers were shoved back. Tear gas cannisters were fired into their ranks. Troopers charged the marchers on horseback. The day became known in civil rights history as "Bloody Sunday."

In a phone interview, Baines said "it is humbling" to know that he will be walking the ground where civil rights leaders took a stand for justice a half-century ago.

-- Approved a policy -- Council Member Lee Brand's Asset Management Act -- for the management of the city's real estate assets. Brand said he thinks smarter use of the city's property can result in big money through savings or additional revenue.

-- Received the Old Fig Garden Community Transportation study.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6272 or ghostetter@fresnobee.com. Read his City Beat blog at fresnobee.com/city-beat.

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