OLDSMAR — Tom and Catherine Price climbed into their golf cart and headed toward Veterans Memorial Park, hoping to catch the sunset with friends.
However, as they drove down Shore Drive, they were the ones who were caught — caught driving their golf cart illegally.
"We were pulled over by a Pinellas County deputy,'' Tom Price said. "It was only a written warning because we hadn't been stopped before, but when we were told we couldn't drive our golf cart in Oldsmar, that was a big deal to us. We love our golf cart."
The experience spurred Price into action.
"We were pulled over on a Sunday night, and by Monday morning, I had mapped out a plan to make Oldsmar golf cart friendly,'' he said.
As it stands now, the only place in Oldsmar where golf carts can be driven on streets is within Gull Aire Village, a mobile home community off Curlew Road. In 2011, the City Council approved an ordinance allowing golf carts there based on residents' requests.
However, if Price has his way, much of Oldsmar — or at least most of the streets between Shore Drive and State Road 580 — would be open to golf carts.
"To keep it safe, my proposal would only allow golf carts on streets with 25 mph speed limits or less,'' Price said.
His proposal also requires owners to make their golf carts street legal, which means adding brake lights, horns, mirrors and reflecting devices. Golf cart owners would also have to purchase a $25 permit from the city to operate the vehicle on city streets.
According to Price, the money the city would collect from the permit fee could be used to create two official golf cart crossings on St. Petersburg Drive, one at Woodward Avenue and another one at Washington Avenue.
"People could still cross the street in other places along St. Petersburg Drive, but having the official crossings would not just help with safety, it would also be a visual of Oldsmar as a golf cart community,'' Price said.
Since his run-in with the deputy, Price has moved his golf cart over to his mother-in-law's home in Dunedin, which has allowed golf carts for about two years. For his wife's upcoming birthday, he will drive her by car to Dunedin. They'll park and then board the golf cart to head out for dinner.
"But I don't want to have to leave my hometown. I want Oldsmar to do the same thing as Dunedin, and I'm sure local restaurants here don't want us to leave either,'' he said.
Dave Broker, the manager of Fairway Golf Carts on Racetrack Road, believes it's just a matter of time before Oldsmar officials approve the use of golf carts.
"Our business keeps growing,'' he said. "Golf carts are environmentally friendly because they are electric with zero emissions, and people have realized how relaxing it is, taking a nice little cruise on the golf cart. It eases up parking and you get a vacation type of feeling.''
On Oct. 15, Price shared his proposal during the public comment portion of the Oldsmar City Council meeting. Several City Council members expressed interest in the idea.
On Nov. 14, the city's technical review committee will study the issue further. If the committee has no problems, a discussion on golf cart usage on city streets will take place at a council meeting in either December or January, according to Debb Pauley, Oldsmar's communications specialist.
Piper Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163. To write a letter to the editor, visit tampabay.com/letters.