Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
Abandoned shopping cars are a nuisance in many North Texas neighborhoods, but Dallas has come up with a strategy to crack down on runaway carts.
Dallas city leaders want more help from stores on shopping carts that roll away from parking lots where they belong.
A trial program run by the city the past five months has recovered more than 600 abandoned carts.
The program focused on five problem neighborhoods.
City officials say the most serious abandoned cart nuisance is in Vickery Meadows area near Skillman and Abrams where many people without cars live in large apartment complexes near stores.
"It makes your neighborhood look awful," said resident Norma Jean Edmiston.
A block away from a Fiesta Mart Store on Abrams, Edmiston and resident Jeremiah Johnson walked past several abandoned carts on a side street.
"They’re everywhere. I mean, you walk down the street you’ll probably find a few more. They’re everywhere," Johnson said.
Two Fiesta carts sat beside a bus stop on Skillman.
"Some of the people have a lot of groceries, so they’ll push them to the bus stop, and get on the bus and just leave them there," he said.
City officials said Fiesta has been cooperating by collecting carts and the company is also considering corrals at nearby apartment complexes where store representatives would collect carts.
"A lot of the stores have been great, open, working with us," said Assistant Dallas Code Compliance Director James Childers. "A lot of them have stepped up and said 'We’re willing to do whatever it takes to address the problem.'"
The new Walmart and Sam’s Club stores at Skillman and Northwest Highway have carts with wheels that automatically lock if the cart is taken off the property.
Monday, the Dallas City Council Quality of Life Committee received a briefing on results of the program so far and options for expanding it citywide.
Council Members wanted more stores to take responsibility for their carts and perhaps offer customers other ways to carry groceries home, including collapsible carts or special handles that can carry several grocery bags at once.
But committee members wanted to let companies decide which locations deserve more attention instead of forcing it on them.
"It’s obviously so much easier to do a voluntary program. And when we see compliance with that, we like to keep it a voluntary program. But if it’s necessary and we find we have to go to a mandatory program, we can move in that direction," Councilmember Angela Hunt said.
Childers said a more detailed plan will be presented to the committee later this year.