A trio of LSVs navigate Marina Drive March 22 in Holmes Beach. The city is exploring ways to improve traffic safety with golf cart and LSV regulations. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice
The sunset may be on the horizon for golf carts in Holmes Beach.
City commissioners reached consensus March 22 to move forward on drafting an ordinance requiring residency to obtain registration to operate a golf cart on city roads, establishing a 16-year-old age limit for drivers and preventing the registration of new vehicles after the initial 90-day registration period.
The ordinance would not regulate low-speed vehicles, which have a top speed exceeding 20 mph and are recognized as motor vehicles under federal law — which requires an operator to have a driver’s license.
If registered and tagged by the state, LSVs are allowed on roadways with speed limits of 35 mph or less, under state code chapter 316.
On the other hand, golf carts travel at speeds up to 20 mph, but are not classified as motor vehicles. Operators do not need a Florida driver’s licence and can be as young as 14 — an oft-cited concern about mingling the vehicles on the roadways.
State law prohibits the use of golf carts on state roads, such as Manatee Avenue/State Road 64 and East Bay Drive/State Road 789, but allows municipalities to permit their operation on city streets.
City code currently allows golf carts on all streets except Gulf, Palm and Marina drives, where they are only allowed to cross the roadway.
Commissioners took a “first step” at improving road safety by adopting a citywide 25-mph speed limit in February.
The commission focus now has turned to golf carts and LSVs, which must be regulated separately due to state and federal preemptions.
Commissioners planned in early March to allow resident-only golf cart registration and sunset the provision in five years.
However, city attorney Erica Augello said, based on public input on the five-year sunset, presented options with and without a sunset provision.
Both would establish a resident-only registration process, require safety features and set a 16-year-old age limit for golf cart operators.
Mayor Judy Titsworth said she was concerned about the city overstepping regulatory boundaries and “penalizing” residents by sunsetting golf carts.
“If we solve the problem with the age, then I think we solve the problem,” Titsworth said.
She also suggested commissioners remove a provision requiring insurance on the vehicles.
Commissioners reached consensus to eliminate the insurance provision.
Commission Chair Carol Soustek said she was “leaning toward” supporting a sunset provision since eliminating the vehicles would best improve safety, while Commissioner Jayne Christenson expressed opposition to a sunset provision.
Commissioner Kim Rash suggested they change the sunset period from five years to the lifetime of a registered vehicle and eliminate the proposed registration renewal process, allowing a golf cart owner to register their vehicle during a yet-to-be-determined 90-day window and drive it on city roads until it became inoperable.
Commissioners voted 4-1 on two motions, establishing a 90-day registration period following the ordinance’s adoption and ceasing registration for new golf carts after 90 days.
Commissioners also agreed to sunset golf carts based on the lifetime of a registered vehicle.
In other matters…
City commissioners also agreed to:
- Authorized Titsworth to negotiate a land purchase near Grassy Point Preserve, 3021 Ave. C;
- Unanimously voted to endorse the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization’s “Destination Zero Action Plan” to improve roadway safety and reduce traffic fatalities;
- Unanimously approved an agreement with Colliers Engineering & Design for engineering services.
The commission will meet next at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive. The meeting will be open to the public. Directions to attend via Zoom can be found at holmesbeachfl.org.