Noting an increase in the numbers, usage and popularity of golf carts within their city, DeBary’s leaders are almost set to control where, when and how the low-speed vehicles may be ridden.
The City Council on Dec. 1 tentatively approved a golf-cart ordinance that, if passed again later this month, will go into effect in March 2022. The proposed law effectively legalizes the use of golf carts on many municipal rights of way where they are now prohibited.
“Right now, with no ordinance, we have golf carts operating all over our city,” Mayor Karen Chasez said. “I think there are advantages of golf carts being used for transportation. … We are not going to back the clock to when there were no golf carts in DeBary.”
The ordinance, drafted by City Attorney Kurt Ardaman, is the result of a seven-member committee appointed by the City Council in July to make recommendations on how DeBary should regulate golf carts.
The Golf Cart Citizen Advisory Committee convened six public meetings and received suggestions, ideas and comments from DeBary’s residents, then submitted its report in November, proposing an array of controls on the operation of golf carts.
In the absence of a local ordinance, Florida state law forbids the use of golf carts on municipal sidewalks, as well as on state and county roads. That is, unless a city opts to set safety regulations, the state law bans golf carts from public roads, streets and sidewalks. DeBary’s pending measure would allow them on most sidewalks within the city — most, but not all.
“Even with a DeBary Golf Cart Ordinance, DeBary Residents still will not be able to drive golf carts on state and county roads and/or adjacent sidewalks,” a city-produced flyer noted.
Besides U.S. Highway 17-92, three other high-traffic county roads will be off-limits to golf carts: Saxon Boulevard, Enterprise Road and Dirksen Drive.
Other key points in DeBary’s draft ordinance are:
— Owners of golf carts must register them and pay a $25 annual fee. Operating a golf cart on a public right of way without a valid registration sticker would result in a $150 fine.
— Owners of golf carts must carry liability insurance, similar to the coverage required for motorized vehicle owners.
— To operate a golf cart, a person must be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver’s license.
— Operators of golf carts may be subject to the same traffic-safety regulations as drivers of cars or trucks. They may be cited for moving violations, and they may be fined for reckless or unsafe actions while driving a golf cart.
— To be street-legal in DeBary, a golf cart must have certain basic safety equipment, including working brakes, headlights, front and rear turn-signal lights, taillights that also act as brake lights, a windshield, a mirror on the driver’s side and on the front passenger’s side or a rearview mirror, and reflectors on the rear and sides of the cart. Not least, a golf cart must be equipped with a horn that is “plainly audible when activated.”
City Manager Carmen Rosamonda said recognizing golf carts as a way of getting from here to there in DeBary is part of a greater effort of “transitioning to a multi-modal community,” a city that is connected with other localities not only by standard roads jammed with cars and trucks, but also by SunRail and state and county trails.
“This is not just something we started overnight,” he told the council.
Envisioning an expansion of golf-cart usage in DeBary, Rosamonda said more and better sidewalks will be needed in the years ahead. The city, he added, will pay for the additional infrastructure with local-option gasoline-tax revenues coming from the county.
The second and final reading, public hearing and the vote by the City Council are set for Wednesday, Dec. 15. The council convenes at 6:30 p.m. at DeBary City Hall, 16 Colomba Road. The meeting is open to the public.