Clear Lake council approves first reading of alterations to golf cart ordinance, seat belts to be required in rear-facing seats

CLEAR LAKE — The Clear Lake City Council during a special meeting this morning approved the first reading of an ordinance altering the regulations on the use of golf carts on the city’s streets. The council discussed potential changes to the rules during a workshop session earlier this month.

Police Chief Pete Roth says one of the big changes will be the requirement to have a proper restraint for those in a rear-facing seating position under the age of 18. “Rear-facing seats will require seat belts for people 17 and under, just for rear-facing only. Seat belts be installed in golf carts for rear-facing seats only.”

Roth says carts will be required to have a seat belt device installed in any rear-facing seats even if they aren’t intended to be used.  “The way the code is written in the amendment, yes you would, because what we find is that you may have a long-lost relative show up and want to borrow the cart or give a ride to somebody. For the inspection to pass, the way the code is amended here is you would have to have the belt on there to get the permit.”

Roth says the yearly price for obtaining a permit to operate a golf cart would go up from the current $25 level to $40.  “As you know the popularity of this mode of transportation has increased, and the number of staff and time to inspect, process and approve a permit has increased with that. The permit fee has not been raised since 2017 when we first started this program, so it’s been five summers of $25, so we thought that was a good compromise there at $40.”

Those found to be violating the golf cart ordinance would also see fines increase from $75 to $105 for a first offense and from $100 to $150 for subsequent offenses. Roth says his department also recommends that the annual inspection process for golf carts continues.  “We elected to keep the annual inspection in place because we felt that’s a good opportunity for talking with the owner-operator of the golf cart. We can also inspect the safety equipment that’s on there, and it does change from year to year, so we kept that in the code for your approval.”

The council unanimously passed the first reading of the ordinance, with the second and third readings to come during the council’s regularly-scheduled meetings in December.