In the recent City Council meeting in Sealy, Texas on Wednesday, July 5, 2023, a significant amount of time was devoted to discussing the possible development of a new golf cart ordinance. This came in response to numerous instances of local residents being pulled over by local law enforcement for driving golf carts without proper licensing.
The discussion, primarily led by the city attorney, the City Council, and the police chief, centered around various issues pertaining to golf carts use within the city. The catalyst for this discourse was anecdotal evidence from residents who had been pulled over despite their golf carts being equipped with all necessary features for road use such as slow-moving vehicle emblems, blinkers, brakes, and mirrors.
The central issue seemed to hinge on the requirement for a license plate. Despite possessing all other required safety features, residents reported being informed by local police that they needed to acquire a license plate for their golf carts. These encounters led to confusion and calls for clearer regulations, as some residents felt that there was significant miscommunication regarding the legality of golf cart usage on city roads.
The discussion further expanded to the possibility of allowing golf carts to traverse the city freely, with an exception for streets with speed limits exceeding 35 mph. The Council acknowledged that this decision would be contingent on state laws and the individual circumstances of the drivers. Several concerns were raised, including the legality of underage individuals driving golf carts and the potential for golf carts to create traffic issues, especially near busy intersections and feeder roads.
The Council also noted that safety measures should be a top priority. The Council members debated the likelihood of golf carts venturing onto busy roads and highways. The possibility of such a scenario resulting in accidents was a significant cause for concern.
Addressing these concerns, the Council discussed directing the city staff to draft a golf cart ordinance that would define legal and safe usage of golf carts in the city. The draft would not only comply with the state law but would also include clauses necessitating a driver’s license and insurance for golf cart operation. It was clarified that state law does require a license plate for golf carts, and residents could register their golf carts in county DMV for a fee.
A motion was put forward and seconded to direct city staff to develop a draft ordinance allowing golf carts throughout the city. This ordinance would also ensure that all golf cart drivers are properly licensed, and golf carts are equipped with all safety requirements.
Despite some City Council members expressing a potential conflict of interest, it was determined that the council members owning a golf cart did not constitute a financial benefit and hence could participate in the voting process.
The City Council then voted unanimously in favor of directing the staff to continue working on the proposed golf cart ordinance. The Council believes that a well-drafted ordinance would not only help to regulate golf cart usage in the city but also resolve any existing confusion amongst the residents. You can listen to the full discussion starting at the 37:20 mark of the video below.