Sheriff stalls golf carts in Coupeville

Concern expressed by the sheriff about vehicle visibility is prompting the delay of regulations that would allow golf carts to be driven legally on Coupeville roads.

The Coupeville Town Council decided last Tuesday evening to continue a public hearing until January regarding a golf cart ordinance.

The ordinance outlines that applicable golf carts be electrically powered, specifically designed for the golf course, have four wheels, be able to  reach a speed of 20 miles per hour in one mile and have reflectors placed on the front and rear of the vehicle. Carts would be prohibited on the town’s sidewalks, biking trails and pathways. People wishing to use golf carts would have to pay the town a $25 annual fee.

Island County Sheriff Mark Brown expressed concern over the safety of slower vehicles on the road, and particularly the reflector requirement.

The sheriff said the town should change the ordinance to require stoplights and blinkers on carts that would be used on the road. Electric lights would make motorists more aware of the slower moving carts driving through town, he said.

“We’re not habitually in tune to looking at these type of things,” Brown told the town council. He said deputies recently covered a collision on Camano Island where a golf cart turned in front of a car.

Coupeville resident Dan Miranda agreed with Brown’s safety concerns but he’s still eager for the ordinance to become a reality. He said it cost him $275 to install lights and mirrors on his golf cart in anticipation of driving on town roads.

Councilwoman Molly Hughes questioned whether golf carts could legally cross Highway 20. Mayor Nancy Conard said carts could cross the highway at the lighted intersection with Main Street. It would be illegal for golf carts to cross the highway on Broadway, which is located outside town limits and therefore outside the boundary of the proposed golf cart zone.

Jack Tingstad, who lives on Broadway, was concerned about the slow-moving carts on busy streets. He encouraged the town to work with potential golf cart users to plot routes through town that avoid arterials.

Resident Al Bowers questioned how the town will enforce the regulations and administer the permits. He also questioned whether the town would have to hire additional staff to deal with the golf carts.

Town Marshal Dave Penrod said he called other towns in the state and found few people have been taking advantage of driving golf carts; La Conner had two registered carts, Orting had five and Mill Creek had three, he said during the meeting.

Conard recommended that the Town Council continue the public hearing until next month to allow time to change the proposed ordinance to account for lights and blinkers instead of reflective tape.

The hearing is expected to continue during the Coupeville Town Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Jan 10, 6:30 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room in the basement of the Annex Building.


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