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In St. Pete Beach, carts not just for golf anymore

ST. PETE BEACH — Have a golf cart? You can now ride it on the city's streets.

Just be sure to stay off Gulf Boulevard and the Pinellas Bayway, as well as the portions of 75th Avenue and Blind Pass Road that are state highways.

The only other requirement is that you have a decal permit from the city. But be aware that item may be a little hard to get, at least for a about a month.

Though the City Commission approved allowing golf carts on city streets last week, the administration will not order permit decals until after Tuesday, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

Nor are there any procedures in place to inspect the golf carts as allowed in the new ordinance.

But, said City Clerk Rebecca Haynes, if you want to ride your golf cart now, you can.

"We will issue temporary permits for now to anyone that wants them," said Haynes.

City Manager Mike Bonfield said he hopes to have up to three locations where golf cart riders can cross state roads — at Boca Ciega and 75th Avenues, and at Corey Avenue and Blind Pass Road where they intersect Gulf Boulevard.

Those crossings require the agreement of the Florida Department of Transportation, however, and therefore could take some time.

In the meantime, golf carts can be used on any city street where speed limits are 25 miles per hour or less.

According to the ordinance, all golf carts taken onto city streets must be registered and licensed by the city at an annual cost of $10.

The golf carts can be driven only by their owner, who must hold a valid driver's license and carry liability insurance.

The carts must be equipped with "efficient brakes, reliable steering, a horn, safe tires, a rearview mirror and red reflective warning devices in both the front and rear."

Golf carts may not be driven on city streets between sunset and sunrise unless they have headlights, brake lights, turn signals and a windshield as required by state law.

They also cannot be used on city sidewalks, in city parks or in other unpaved, city-owned right-of-ways.

Bonfield said he expects the permanent decals will be available and inspection procedures in place by Nov. 1.

The golf cart ordinance, passed last week, was originally intended for the Pass-a-Grille area south of the Pinellas Bayway.

But the commissioners decided their constituents would like the ability to ride their carts in other neighborhoods as well.

"Government is not always for telling people what they can't do," said Mayor Steve McFarlin. "I think it is a neat thing."

Commissioner Marvin Shavlan said he was "all for it" and stressed that the commission could always rescind the ordinance if any safety or other issues develop.

"I don't think the benefits are worth the risks," said Commissioner Jim Parent, the sole opponent to the new mode of transportation.

"I have confidence in the sheriff and our ability to rescind it, but those are after-the-fact actions and that bothers me," he said.

Commissioner Melissa Pletcher saw it differently, however.

"I am excited we are taking this throughout the city," she said. "It will being a special branding for the people who live here."

In St. Pete Beach, carts not just for golf anymore 09/27/13 [Last modified: Friday, September 27, 2013 3:23pm]
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