What policies does your community have in place regarding the use, storage and operation of golf carts? Can owners ride the golf carts to the local convenience store, coffee shop or hair dresser? Adoption of a new proposal will allow local governments to create their own regulations governing the use of golf carts, which pleases many Condo & HOA owners. In Bradenton, Florida seniors listed golf cart usage as a priority, as the cost is insignificant and many of them have given up driving automobiles. The Bradenton Herald recently included a story describing what changes would result from SB 2448. Ambiguities regarding the use of golf carts are not new. In 2002, the Florida Attorney General released an Advisory Legal Opinion in reply to an inquiry regarding whether a municipality may impose a minimum age requirement for the operation of a golf cart which was more restrictive than those found in the Florida Statutes or whether a City may require the operator of a golf cart to have a valid Florida Driver’s License, the answer to both being ‘no’. In 2004, Charlie Crist, as Florida’s Attorney General, issued an Advisory Legal Opinion (AGO 2004-60) implying that a community association could not adopt rules prohibiting persons under the age of 16 from using golf carts on public streets in the country club community. He also indicated that the Association could not force golf cart users to use child safety devices, which resulted in changes to the Florida Statutes. Under proposed SB 2448, the local government would be obligated to:
- issue a finding that golf carts, bicycles and pedestrians can share the sidewalk safely;
- consult with the Department of Transportation;
- restrict speed to no more than 15 mph and only permit use on sidewalks at least 8 feet wide;
- retain (or supplement) golf cart equipment requirements; and
- post appropriate signage.
Community associations need to address golf cart, scooter and other transportation device use and storage issues carefully – even with respect to private property. Consult with counsel to determine what types of regulations are appropriate and enforceable. It is also a good idea to check whether the insurance policies contain exclusions or specific requirements for claims involving golf carts.