ST. PETE BEACH – Golf carts could soon be par for the course on city streets in St. Pete Beach.
City commissioners Sept. 3 approved an ordinance allowing golf carts on city streets that was modeled after a similar ordinance in Dunedin that law enforcement officers say is working well.
At its Aug. 27 meeting, city officials originally proposed that golf carts would only be allowed on city streets south of the Pinellas Bayway Bridge. At the recommendation of city commissioners, the ordinance was changed to apply it to all city-owned streets.
St. Pete Beach City Manager Mike Bonfield said city officials recommend unless required by the state at a crossing of a state road, the city won’t install any signage in the city because of costs involved.
“I don’t think it will be very aesthetically pleasing to have more signage in the city,” he said.
If they decide later that the signs may be needed at some locations, they can be addressed then, he said.
Commissioner Jim Parent was the lone dissenter against the ordinance.
From a physics standpoint, “force equals mass times acceleration.” It’s dangerous for a driver to be operating a golf cart on city streets, he said.
“If an accident happens, I just think they are going to lose, big time,” Parent said.
Commissioner Marvin Shavlan said the same could be said about bicycles.
“Bicycles don’t ride in the middle of the streets,” Parent said.
Motorcycles also ride in the middle of the street, Parent said, but they have the ability to get out of the way.
However, Parent added that he appreciates the fact that city officials extended the area where carts will be allowed to the whole city.
Commissioner Melinda Pletcher, who represents the Pass-A-Grille, said she’s excited that the commission is allowing golf carts for the entire city.
“Honestly, there is going to be a large number of folks in town in our area who have anxiously been waiting for us to be able to have a golf cart ordinance of some sort,” she said.
It helps that the Sheriff’s Office has a track record of being involved in golf cart operations in other cities, Mayor Steve McFarlin said.
The city intends to print manuals to issue to golf cart operators.
Under terms of the St. Pete Beach ordinance, golf cart owners would pay a $10 fee to the city for an annual permit.
They also would have to show proof of insurance and pass a cart inspection. Golf cart operators must have a valid driver’s license.
Golf carts may be operated on city streets only during the hours between sunrise and sunset unless the equipment and safety devices specified by state law have been installed, the ordinance says.
The ordinance will be up for final approval at the commission’s next meeting, Wednesday, Sept. 18.