Uptown Square in Federal Way. File photo

Uptown Square in Federal Way. File photo

Federal Way City Council outlaws pushing shopping carts on the sidewalk

The new ordinance makes pushing or possessing a shopping cart in any city right-of-way a Class 3 infraction.

The Federal Way City Council passed an ordinance that makes it illegal to push or possess a shopping cart in any city right-of-way.

On Nov. 15, five council members approved new shopping cart regulations that prohibit anyone from pushing, pulling, possessing or operating a shopping cart on any public right-of-way, including sidewalks or roadways. The two votes against the ordinance came from councilmembers Lydia Assefa-Dawson and Hoang Tran.

Councilmember Tran said he recognized there is an issue with people and shopping carts in the city, but in passing the ordinance, “I feel like we are targeting a group of vulnerable people in the community,” he said. “I feel like this ordinance is intended to drive homeless people out of the city without providing any meaningful help.”

Tran, who said he was once homeless and called the ordinance “mean spirited,” said the ordinance has unintended consequences impacting people such as the elderly or single parents who lack other means of transportation for their items or groceries.

The estimated annual cost of the program’s operations is $250,000 and the cost may decrease over time, said Brian Davis, community development director of the city.

Several councilmembers said the ordinance won’t fix or address the underlying issues of homelessness, nor will it actually help people get out of homelessness. This is because the city does not have a system in place to support people after they are contacted by police over their shopping cart, several councilmembers noted.

Deputy Mayor Susan Honda supported the idea brought forth by a resident about creating a drug treatment facility in Federal Way, in addition to connecting people with peer navigators in Federal Way’s Community Court. Councilmember Jack Dovey also supported the idea of creating a drug and alcohol treatment center.

The issue grew from the use of shopping carts by people in the city who appear to be homeless or transient, which numerous residents have talked about during public comment over the past several months.

In 2018, the city passed an ordinance requiring all shopping carts to carry identification signs. Under that law, abandoned shopping carts can be impounded by the city, with the relevant fees charged to their retail owners.

The ordinance now passed by the city broadens the law to affect vulnerable individuals, not just businesses.

The updated shopping cart laws make it a Class 3 infraction to push or possess a shopping cart in any city right-of-way, such as a sidewalk or road, and is punishable by a $50 ticket. It would also make the carts in those situations and all the items inside subject to seizure and impounding, whether or not those carts have proper identification signage.

Theft of a shopping cart with proper ID signage, which is a more serious crime than possession, remains a misdemeanor under city code, punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and up to 90 days in jail.

An officer from the Special Operations Unit will be tasked with contacting people accused of violating the shopping cart laws.

The law expands the existing impound program to include stolen shopping carts seized under the new infraction and exempts all carts with proper ID signage and theft-prevention measures from seizure fees. The city must still to develop a system to store a person’s personal items after they are seized by police during a shopping cart infraction.

Councilmember Erica Norton, who said she was homeless and addicted to drugs 16 years ago, voted for the ordinance and said becoming uncomfortable changed her life for the better.

“It’s called hitting bottom,” she said. “And the more we help them, and give them services, and coddle them, the less likely it is that these people are going to stand up and learn how to take care of themselves.”

The new ordinance takes effect Thursday, Dec. 15.

Reporter Alex Bruell contributed to this story.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Northwest

Courtesy Photo, UW Medicine
Flu season is off to historically severe start | UW Medicine

Flu-related hospitalizations are higher so far this year in U.S. than every previous season since 2011

Federal Way Discount Guns, 4101 S. 324th St. FILE PHOTO, Sound Publishing
Federal Way Discount Guns faces lawsuit for illegally selling high-capacity gun magazines

State Attorney General’s Office alleges owner, sales clerk threw away receipts after selling items to investigators.

King County proclaims Dan Satterberg Day to honor outgoing prosecutor

He worked 37 years in the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office; the last 15 as its leader

Jennifer Brinkman
Renton suspect arrested for 1998 cold case homicide of Marysville woman

Jennifer Brinkman, 19, was found dead in her Marysville home with axe wounds over 20 years ago.

Sound Transit may suspend Sounder service due to national rail strike

Unless settlement reached or Congress intervenes, strike could start Dec. 9

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Crime, climate, abortion on docket in legislative session warm-up

Washington lawmakers will hold 39 hearings this week. Nearly all will be conducted in person, which hasn’t happened in three years.

Carolyn DeFord. COURTESY PHOTO, Jovelle Tamayo
Forum spotlights Washington’s missing and murdered Indigenous people

Carolyn DeFord of the Puyallup Tribe spoke about her mother’s 1999 disappearance and what has led to this crisis.

Police lights (File photo)
Man killed in shootout with Federal Way police

Police have not yet determined if the man was struck by police gunfire

Photo by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing.
The Hitching Rail’s equine therapy is free for those who have or are currently serving in the military, first responders and their families. The ranch also offers paid riding lessons for all levels of horsemanship.
Renton ranch offers free equine therapy for military veterans

Jim and Lily Carlson started the Hitching Rail Wellness Center and Retreat

The bay ghost shrimp, also known as Neotrypaea Californiensis. Courtesy of Dave Cowles.
Meet the ghost shrimp, a spooky little critter in Puget Sound

Halloween has come and gone, but within the waters of the Puget… Continue reading

Enumclaw man dies in rollover crash on SR 167 in Auburn

James W. Maclam was ejected from his car as it flipped over a barrier onto an onramp below.