A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Part of the landscape now: Dumped carts

Written June 20th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

From this footbridge on Periwinkle Creek, the view includes a discarded shopping cart.

By now, stolen shopping carts dumped in our waterways have become part of the scenery, and not just in Albany. Or so it seems.

We have, of course, bigger things to worry about. So this element of our urban landscape is not going to change any time soon.

The unauthorized appropriation (OK, call it theft if you want) and then abandonment of shopping carts seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. You have to wonder, though, why so many end up in creeks and canals.

Like cities across the country, Albany tried to get a handle on the problem in the spring of 2008. That’s when the council passed a law intended to get stores to reclaim any carts found abandoned around town. Now, 12 years later, you have to conclude that it hasn’t worked.

Shopping carts, presumably purloined, are what many homeless people use to stow their stuff and move it around as they walk the streets. Solve the homeless problem, and cart dumping as an issue goes away. (hh)

That cart, photographed on May 31, looked like it had been there a long time.

3 responses to “Part of the landscape now: Dumped carts”

  1. John Marble says:

    I find myself wondering whether those carts are part of the cultural historical record of the community, a bit of anthropological evidence about homelessness in Albany. If so, perhaps they should be left in place so our descendants can form committees to preserved and study them.

    Just kidding.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Some cities have found a viable solution. They built storage centers. Homeless folks can keep their belongings at the centers free of charge for as long as needed.

    Albany could fund these centers by decreasing the police budget. That would be the politically correct thing to do.

    BTW, why do homeless people abandon their stolen carts? Are they trading up to a newer model? Are they moving on to another city? Are the carts breaking down?

    If carts are indeed a life raft for the homeless, you’d think they wouldn’t abandon them, at least until rousted by the police.

  3. Tyler says:

    This isn’t just a homeless problem. I have watched people this week push carts of groceries down Pacific to their residences and then push the carts to the nearest intersection and abandon them.

    Maybe a better mass transit system would help as well?


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