Holmes Beach considers golf cart regulations

Holmes Beach golf cart low speed vehicle map
This map shows where Chief Bill Tokajer proposes golf carts and low speed vehicles be allowed to drive to get through from one end of the city to the other, marked in green. The red line, down major thoroughfares, is where the vehicles would be allowed to cross but not allowed to be driven. - HBPD | Submitted

HOLMES BEACH – If you drive a golf cart in Holmes Beach, new regulations may be on the way that affect where you can go.

During the Oct. 23 work session, commissioners considered a draft ordinance brought forth by Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer concerning the use of golf carts and low-speed vehicles in the city. Tokajer said that Holmes Beach is the only one of the three Island cities currently allowing golf carts that are not street legal to be driven on all city streets by a licensed driver. With the new ordinance, he hopes to make the city’s streets safer for golf cart users and motorists by taking the slowest of the vehicles off main thoroughfares.

Tokajer suggested either requiring golf carts to be retrofitted to be street legal and registered with the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles or confining their use to Key Royale where a golf course is located. He estimates it would cost $1,300-2,000 to make a standard golf cart street legal with the biggest costs being the registration and installation of a windshield.

Commissioners recognized the need for increased safety on golf carts operated within the city but balked at the idea of restricting their use to the Key Royale neighborhood.

Commissioner Judy Titsworth said she agrees that seeing golf carts carrying children with no safety belts scares her, but she doesn’t want to take rights away from responsible residents who depend on their golf carts for local transportation and might not have funds to make an investment in making the golf carts street legal.

Commissioner Carol Soutek, a golf cart owner, said she also was concerned with the idea of taking away a mode of transportation that many Holmes Beach seniors depend on.

“The residents are pretty responsible with their golf carts because they appreciate having it,” she said. “I would like to leave the residents’ golf carts alone.”

In lieu of banning golf carts all together, Tokajer suggested commissioners consider requiring them to be retrofitted with seat belts, and any children of an appropriate age or size are required to ride in a car seat, just as they would be in a vehicle. He also presented a color-coded map with a suggested golf cart route through town focusing on back streets rather than main thoroughfares where traffic is more intense. He suggested disallowing low-speed vehicles and golf carts on city streets with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour.

Commissioners agreed to consider the implementation of seat belts and restricting the use of the vehicles in higher speed limit areas. They asked Tokajer to come back with ideas for a city golf cart registration program.