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New Port Richey will open streets to golf carts on June 1

Published Apr. 21, 2016

NEW PORT RICHEY — The City Council has legalized driving golf carts on some New Port Richey streets, while a crackdown could be coming on people living in recreational vehicles in mobile home parks.

During a meeting Tuesday, the New Port Richey City Council approved on second reading an ordinance that will allow golf carts on streets east of U.S. 19. Beginning June 1, golf carts that pass a new city inspection program can legally be driven on many city streets, with the exception of Congress Street, Madison Avenue, Massachusetts Avenue, Marine Parkway from U.S. 19 to Grand Boulevard, and Trouble Creek Road.

In passing the ordinance, the council agreed to ease restrictions on driving golf carts on Main Street through downtown by allowing carts to drive on Main from Grand Boulevard to Van Buren Street. Initially, the ordinance only allowed golf cart traffic on Main Street from Grand to River Road, to allow crossing over the river bridge near the city's popular Sims Park. Golf carts will also be allowed on Indiana Avenue.

Golf cart owners will need to pay an annual registration fee of $25, which will include passing an inspection that requires brakes, turn signals, brake lights, safety belts, reliable steering, a horn, safe tires and a rearview mirror, according to the ordinance. Drivers must also be insured and will be given a detailed map outlining where it will be legal to operate carts.

There are also several restrictions on operating golf carts, including not allowing children under 5 years old to ride and prohibiting driving on sidewalks. In addition, it will be the "duty of the operator of a golf cart to leave the paved surface of a designated street to allow other motor vehicles to proceed at a lawful speed," the ordinance states.

City leaders said that in the future they may look to expand areas where golf carts are allowed. Mayor Rob Marlowe called the restrictions on some roads "overreaching," and the council agreed to review the program in six months.

Meanwhile, the city is looking to crack down on people living in recreational vehicles as permanent residences in mobile home parks.

The council on first reading passed an ordinance that would ban people from living in recreational vehicles that are "built on a single chassis, are 400 square feet or less when measured at the largest horizontal projection, designed to be self-propelled or permanently towable by a light-duty truck and designed primarily not for use as a permanent dwelling but as temporary living quarters for recreation camping, travel or seasonal use."

Council member Jeff Starkey said the city needs the ordinance to combat unscrupulous landlords who allow people to live in substandard conditions in RVs.

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"I can't believe we didn't have this currently," Starkey said.