Abandoned, stolen carts a bump in road to cleaner Kitsap

While more work is being done to minimize litter, there is still no answer for how to handle the large number of abandoned and stolen shopping carts strewn across Kitsap County.

Since its conception in June, the county’s Adopt a Spot Litter Program has gained some ground on litter. The program assigns individuals or groups of volunteers to certain lengths of road. Those volunteers are asked to clean those spots at least twice a year for two years at a time.

Roughly 13% of the eligible miles of road have been adopted, said supervisor Caitlin Newman and specialist Amelia Rohwein, who provided an update to the Central Kitsap Community Council at its recent meeting.

Newman said in an interview that Bainbridge Island has about five volunteers, and North Kitsap also could use more help, but that those areas also seem to have less litter. Central Kitsap has the most miles adopted with 162, followed by South Kitsap with 125, North Kitsap 73 and BI 11.25.

Rohwein said the volunteer recruitment process started slowly, but more younger volunteers have since joined the program, which she said could help them develop more group efforts in the future. “I’d really like to have some groups that I can direct to certain areas that need it. I have some folks that are really interested and have a lot of energy, and if I can get them where I really need it, that would really help us.”

Over 2,300 hours of work were put in by volunteers in 2022. During that time the program reported 1,808 bags containing 31,056 pounds of litter were gathered across roughly 1,381 miles of roads. At least five road adoptions have been recorded by volunteers already this year.

Newman said a few months ago there were only 43 agreements, but now there are 116. She hopes that number will grow as they meet with service groups around the county to try to get them to join. “Once we get out there marketing we hope to get a lot more volunteers,” she said.

A new agreement with Superior Court also is helping with court-ordered monthly litter cleanups. But Newman did add that some areas are not suited for volunteer cleanups because of the danger involved. She knows some people already clean spots on their own, but her program would like to provide them with safety gear, supplies, bag disposal and support.

Newman said on their online map, people can see which areas are adopted by an orange line. “We hope to have a continuous line all across the county.”

For details, go to kitsapgov.com/pw and click on the Adopt a Spot icon.

Shopping carts

One bothersome issue is how to return shopping carts to their retail owners. Carts have become commonplace in the increasing homeless communities but are also commonly seen just abandoned on a random corner miles from their home store.

Newly elected County Commissioner Katie Walters said she is working with the Greater Kitsap Chamber of Commerce to meet with local retailers, which corporate offices usually task with retrieving such carts.

“We all want a beautiful community,” Walters said. “We want to have pride in where we live and know this is not acceptable. We’re really going to try to work together for a positive way forward.”

Sheriff’s Sgt. Brandon Myers addressed issues with law enforcement against those who steal shopping carts, which is a misdemeanor in this state. He said the number of technicalities within the law make it nearly impossible to enforce. “We can’t even, by law, detain them to investigate, per se, on that.”

Another problem with carts is drug paraphernalia being left in them. But Walters said future legislation likely will not include anything about cart theft. “I hear you, ‘cause it’s really out of frustration, but we really don’t want to go that route yet.”