From the desk of the
Director of Public Relations
Regarding being a golf cart community...
For two years we worked on getting the community approved for golf cart operations, as spelled out under state statute sec. 316.212. This statute says that counties or municipalities, which have jurisdiction over the streets in a community, may approve those streets for the use of golf carts if they meet the requirements as dictated by the statute. Counties or municipalities may impose stricter requirements but never reduce the state requirements. Since our streets come under the jurisdiction of Pasco County, and not the City of New Port Richey, Pasco County has set the requirements.
Let me digress and provide a little of the history of this action. In July of 2018 members of the community came to the board and asked if we would get GH approved for golf cart use on our roads like it was in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. The board directed me to go to the general membership, brief everyone on the issue and set up a vote. After two months of advertising the meetings and two separate general membership meetings, the members in attendance voted. Because of the importance of the issue we opened the voting to all who attended, not just GHCA members. This vote passed and on September 6, 2018 the board formally submitted an application to be approved for golf cart operations. At the same time, an organization called Gulf Harbors United disagreed with the way the association ran the vote and setup and ran their own vote, in the community, on line. They reported to us that that vote also came out positive. The county then setup traffic testing equipment in the neighborhood and collected the necessary data. This first test highlighted a major issue in the design of the streets in GH. These straight roads lend themselves to drivers unknowingly or knowingly speeding down the straightaways. In subsequent meetings with county staff, traffic calming or slowing measures were discussed. To see if these measures would work, the county did a second traffic study which showed that after the placement of the Pasco County Sheriff’s radar speed sign some improvement was noted although still not within parameters. In one of our meeting with traffic safety the new head of traffic operations stated that if you look at the drivers in any given community in the United States 20% of the drivers will always follow the posted speed limit, regardless of conditions. He then went on to say, that 60% of our drivers, if constantly reminded via signs and other traffic calming devices, will follow the speed limits. Finally, he stated that 20% of our drivers will have to kill someone before they will slow down or will have to be taken off the streets by law enforcement officers. Since the sheriff’s radar speed sign showed positive results, the GHCA Board authorized the purchase of our own speed sign. This is an interim fix until the county can budget and install more permanent devises throughout the community. This sign has proven that the community can slow down, when reminded, and in fact a third traffic study completed before the corona virus stay at home order, showed that we were below the required threshold and were eligible to be approved under the law. The decision to approve GH for Golf Cart usage was carefully routed through multiple agencies including traffic safety, traffic operations, Pasco Sheriff, Assistant County Administrator for Utilities and the Pasco county attorney to name a few. Only after all had approved the resolution, was it sent to the commissioners for a final vote where it was passed.
The Resolution allows for both daylight and night time operation but each has specific equipment requirements that must be followed or the operator can be ticketed by the sheriff. For daytime use the vehicle must have efficient brakes, safe tires, a rearview mirror, and a red reflectorized warning device front and rear. For nighttime use, the same requirements apply, and in addition you must have operable headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and a windshield. If you have a cart and it does not meet these requirements, you can contact a number of local vendors who will bring your cart into compliance.
Where can you go with your cart? You can go anywhere in GH on the roads. You may not enter any private property without owner approval. This also applies to the Beach Club. They have added some stricter requirements that must be followed. So please check with the beach club before you attempt to enter. The most important fact is you are not legal unless you are a registered LSV to go east of the Citgo Station on Floramar. The roads east and north of the Citgo station belong to the City of New Port Richey. They have different equipment requirements and different rules for operation. I have began negotiations with the City of New Port Richey to see if we can get a route approved to get to downtown and the Sims Park but please understand that for right now it is prohibited.
During a meeting with the New Port Richey Chief of Police I found out that at this time neither Golf Carts, or properly Licensed LSV’s can legally cross Highway 19. Although the sheriff stated that safety was his main concern, his deputies were not trying to single out golf carts crossing. He went on to state that the Florida Highway Patrol is and are watching the area closely.
Even before we were approved for golf carts and the signs went up, the city of New Port Richey has been working with FDOT planners to install an over pass in the vicinity of Marine Parkway that would accommodate pedestrian, bicycle, and golf cart traffic. This would more safely connect the “Harbors Communities” with the city. Additionally, they are planning for an underpass at the Cotee River Bridge to connect Port Richey to the City. We will continue to follow this issue with the city council.