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Hammock Wants Leisurely Use of Golf Carts On Public Roads, But Commission Is Divided

| June 5, 2017

Flagler Beach has very golf-cart-friendly rules of the road. The Hammock wants similarly permissive rules. But the County Commission is divided on the issue. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler Beach has very golf-cart-friendly rules of the road. The Hammock wants similarly permissive rules. But the County Commission is divided on the issue. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler County’s Hammock is the easternmost portion of the county. But it’s the Wild West when it comes to residents using golf carts. The Flagler County Commission may be about to change that by developing an ordinance that will regulate golf-cart use in the area, and possibly across the county.

What that ordinance will read like when it’s done is unclear, because the commission is divided on the issue for now, reflecting the division in the Hammock.

“It’s been against the rules,” County Administrator Craig Coffey said. “The question is, do you legitimize it and it really becomes all over the place, or do you leave it as is, where you have kind of a wink-wink or people use it on the side, they use it on the roads and they cross the roads versus people using them openly up and down the roads. And at night you don’t have streetlights out there and you have a different issue.”

Commissioners Nate McLaughlin and Donald O’Brien are for being more permissive, Commissioners Dave Sullivan and Greg Hansen are for a more restrictive approach, and Commissioner Charlie Ericksen described his preference as “middle of the road.”

The problem that we bump up against here,” McLaughlin said, “unfortunately or fortunately, depending on whose side of the golf cart you’re standing on, there has been a policy that has allowed people to exercise a freedom that now is a perceived right. I don’t know about the rest of the board but I think we need to move forward with something here.” McLaughlin is looking for an ordinance that would respect the Hammock’s lifestyle.

But to Hansen, the “unintended consequences” of an ordinance may create difficult issues, though he is not for banning golf carts. He is not for legalizing them, either.

Golf carts are popular in the Hammock. But they’re being driven in a twilight zone of unenforced laws that would normally prohibit them on public roads. Or had been: if two previous sheriffs for 16 years pretty much ignored golf cart users, enforcement is now more strict under Sheriff Staly: people driving or parking golf carts where they’re not supposed to are getting ticketed.

Staly isn’t doing that on his own initiative. Sheriff’s spokesman Mark Strobridge says the department got information from county government that people were violating parking rules and arbitrarily driving down walk paths, “and some people wanted enforcement.” So the sheriff passed it on to deputies in those area, who started enforcing state law.

Hansen got some 45 emails from constituents on the issue. The emails are split between proponents and opponents of golf carts, running the gamut, Hansen said, “from wanting to drive them on the bike paths to not allowing them on the bike paths, be able to go to Publix.” Some of the emails complain of golf carts parking clusters in places, such as at the end of a street near the beach—not near a park.

“I don’t know why we can’t use [Flagler Beach] as a model to try to get this thing done.”

But, he added: “I’m not sure we want to pass a law or a countywide regulation that says it’s OK to drive golf carts.” He says passing an ordinance like Flagler Beach’s would lead to carts in bike paths and other places where carts should not be. Flagler Beach is very golf-cart friendly on its side streets. The only three exceptions to carts in Flagler Beach are State Road A1A, State Road 100, and sidewalks. Palm Coast has no such allowances, nor does Bunnell.  

McLaughlin disagrees with a restrictive approach: “I have a constituency on the west side that this is part of their—not just their culture but their livelihood,”  he said.

“I’m not totally thrilled,” Commissioner Dave Sullivan said, “every Sunday morning when I go to church over in Flagler Beach, there’s usually a golf cart in front of me doing 20 miles an hour. I should be doing 30, 35. It’s OK, it doesn’t bother me too much. One of the reasons we don’t have that in Grand Haven is the concentration of people.”

State law is clear regarding golf carts: “A golf cart may be operated only upon a county road that has been designated by a county, a municipal street that has been designated by a municipality, or a two-lane county road located within the jurisdiction of a municipality designated by that municipality, for use by golf carts.”

Flagler County has designated no such roadways. The exception is for crossings: golf carts may cross streets and even state highways—as long as the crossing has been so approved by the state Department of Transportation. The law is more permissive when it comes to golf carts crossing streets or highways where a mobile home park straddles the road.

Flagler County Commissioner Greg Hansen. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler County Commissioner Greg Hansen. (© FlaglerLive)

But state law allows local governments to enact ordinances that make it more permissive to operate golf carts—or more restrictive. For example, a local government could allow golf carts on sidewalks or trails. In Flagler County, there may be no general local ordinance, but there is a prohibition on using golf carts on sidewalks, bike paths and trails.

State law separately addresses “low-speed vehicles” and “mini trucks,” which may only be operated by licensed drivers and on roads with speed limits capped at 35 mph. The vehicles must also be insured and registered. But those are not in as frequent use in the Hammock.

Numerous people addressed the commission in a workshop this afternoon. It was one of those meetings that drew a large crowd, as only emotional issues do. The crowd was decidedly pro-golf carts, cheering and clapping every time one of its own would speak in favor of permissive, not restrictive, regulations.

The sheriff took a mild beating from the crowd for enforcing the state law, and complainers were ridiculed. (Commissioner Sullivan spoke up for the sheriff, saying he was merely doing his job.) In one case, a man said his three-month-old granddaughter’s first two words were “golf cart”— before she uttered words referring to her mom, dad or grandparents—because he took her to Publix in the golf cart every morning. But he also said he’s been pulled over by cops twice. “They have been very polite,” he said of deputies, “it has been more information sessions than anything else, just to inform me of what’s going on, and it’s definitely changed with the new sheriff, as opposed to the old sheriff, which was much more live and let live type of person.”

Others more explicitly criticized the sheriff’s enforcement and those complaining about golf carts parking in certain areas. One said he’ll start parking his pick-up truck in the same place and see how people would react. People spoke of the safe, environmentally friendly nature of golf carts, enjoyed by older people. They spoke of wanting the county to legalize the use of golf carts on all roads with 35 mph limits or less. There was a bit of misinformation: one man claimed that in 2009, some “were given tax credits to be able to buy golf carts.” When the crowd mumbled disbelief, he specified: a $5,000 tax credit. In fact, as an IRS briefing on the issue notes, certain low-speed, battery-charged vehicles were eligible for tax credits, but “Vehicles manufactured primarily for off-road use, such as for use on a golf course, do not qualify.”

Coffey, the administrator, cautioned the commission about legalizing golf carts too quickly, before deliberately studying the issue—an approach commissioners did agree to.

The only commissioner to get applause was O’Brien. He had remained quiet throughout the 80-minute discussion. Then he said: “The city of Flagler Beach has an ordinance that has golf carts peacefully coexist within their community. It’s not a gated community. I don’t know why we can’t use that as a model to try to get this thing done.”

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40 Responses for “Hammock Wants Leisurely Use of Golf Carts On Public Roads, But Commission Is Divided”

  1. People can’t drive right with cars, now you want to allow them to drive golf carts in the road? Lol

  2. That’s exactly my thoughts hahaha. In the town where there is more car accidents then anything? Now let people drive the golf carts. Lol

  3. Great idea or work on reducing crime one of those two things

  4. Mothersworry says:

    People should investigate what kind of insurance is needed to operate a golf cart on public roads.

  5. Wtf says:

    Give them what they want who gives a hoot🤓

  6. If they want a golf cart community, they need to move to The Villages. Cars and carts would be deadly in this area.

  7. Palm Coast Pioneers says:

    For many decades we in the Levitt & I.T.T. ‘ Showcase Golf Course Neighborhood’ owned and used Golf Carts. Many in our historic Levitt & I.T.T. ‘ Showcase Golf Course Neighborhood ‘ built ‘ Golf Cart Garages ‘. Many still exist should you want to see them – a good example is on Cerrudo Lane in Palm Coast..

  8. Lazaruis says:

    Our cars already share the road with pedestrians bicycles and motorcycles..
    I think I would be against more obstacles on the road .
    They don’t have a licence for a good reason !!

  9. Sherry says:

    IF Florida had GOOD PUBLIC transportation. . . this would not be such a “Vital” issue. Face it folks, the elderly. . . who shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car. . . need a way of getting around, especially for such things as groceries. If we are “fortunate” we will all be in that situation some day.

    There needs to be “forward” thinking accommodation for the “safe and independent” transportation needs of older folk.

  10. Charles F. Ericksen, Jr says:

    If drivers of any and all vehicles were more courteous to each other, this request would be OK’d..
    Just look at the car deaths on Flagler roads so far this year.. Almost or already equal to last years full year’s total.. A bicycler cannot even cross an intersection, with a light in their favor, without being challenged by a bully car.. The motorcyclists are challenged in the same way.
    A cart and car tangle on A1A in the Hammock would be deadly..
    How many of you have been on a safe bike trail, where runners and walkers , fill the path, and don’t keep to the right, never breaking stride??
    Some have said . put up more signs to control this.. We already have sign polution on our streets,,, Morgan and Morgan signs would go up over night,,We will have signs, saying ” Caution sign coming up”

    I’d be happy with 8 foot wide paths and common sense, which is not so common anymore in…0ur “‘ll do whatever I want,’s my right” America

    But this is doable with every ones cooperation!!

  11. Marlee says:

    Good Grief! What do they want to do, turn the Hammock into another Villages?!
    Get exercise, ride a bike or walk.

  12. We do not need to share our already congested roads with slow moving golf carts. If approved they need to be limited to paths or sidewalks- and I’m not sure sidewalks should be subject to carts.

  13. palmcoaster says:

    Golf carts are supposed to be used for what the name calls for “golf playing” and not to go shopping to Publix or any other traveling, people should use their cars or their bicycles instead. Now Publix offers free delivery too.
    We have our roadways already crowded with very fast and careless traffic and I consider an approval for the unintended use of golf carts an added danger for all in our roads and sidewalks. I agree with the use of golf carts in the private roads inside gated communities if their HOA agree to that, but not in our public roads, sidewalks and walkways. I consider any potential approval of this request as many tragedies waiting to happen. My appreciation to common sense opposition of Commissioners Sullivan and Hansen and hope common sense prevails for Ericksen as well and opposes this request. Golf carts are to play golf.

  14. People drive Golf Carts all the time in Flagler Beach what’s the difference in the hammock

  15. If you want that, move to the Villages ✌

  16. Mark101 says:

    I was at the meeting and here what is going to occur. A few thousand people that own golf carts will pay the fees required to make their carts STREET LEGAL per the Florida Statues and then the county is going to have thousands of carts carts running everywhere in the Hammock and there is nothing the county can do to stop that.

  17. As long as they are not out on major roads, what is the problem? You should not be going more than 25 or 30 on residential roads anyway and it saves on gas and other resources.

  18. Uhh no sorry. This is just asking for more accidents . They do not belong on the road.

  19. Shark says:

    Now you will have to worry about getting run over when you are walking on a sidewalk

  20. Maureen M. says:

    Hammock isn’t the only neighborhood that would like golf cars. Many in the Cypress Knoll neighborhood would enjoy driving to the golf course, picking up groceries at Publix and socializing with neighbors in golf cars!

  21. palmcoaster says:

    My appreciation also to Commissioner Ericksen as per his note above looks like he will also use common sense and oppose this deadly request.

  22. tulip says:

    Cars and trucks don’t drive on the golf course and golf carts should not be allowed on the roadways. There is enough problems with bicyclists and pedestrians being hit, let’s not add another element.

    Someday a person in a big hurry or road rage, or not paying attention is going to hit someone in a golf cart rest assured, or the golf carters will cause traffic jams because they go so slow. Next thing will bu underage kids driving these things on the road—-God help us.

    I would vote for keeping them OFF the streets and ON the course where they belong.

  23. Capt says:

    I live in the Hammock and I’m more worried about some of the rude people on bicycles on the concrete path than one golf cart a day on there. . PS the people that walk your dogs, how about picking up your dogs crap off the path.

  24. Born and Raised Here says:

    If you reside in a gated community, govern by your own H.O.A. I have no problem with using a Golf Cart. But to use them on county or city roads is just not feasible.

  25. Lazaruis says:

    Palm coast pioneer
    You should be ashamed to advertise here !
    Flagler live -this is not the classifieds !!

    • FlaglerLive says:

      Lazarius, Pioneer is not advertising, but frequently writes instructively to connect current issues with the region’s ITT past.

  26. Jack Howell says:

    I am a graduate of the Northwestern University residence course in Traffic Accident Investigation and Reconstruction. Therefore, I know a little bit about traffic. My senses tell me that allowing golf carts on major highways (A1A) would result in serious injury and or death. Flagler Beach has the right approach. Their ordinance should be the model. That said, I would require appropriate lighting on the golf carts to reduce the probability of accidents.

  27. Steven says:

    This can’t possibly happen because what is good for them is good for us and I doubt they want to see golf carts running down US-1 and State Road 100…………………..

  28. happening now says:

    Was much better braking for peacocks——————but then I digress.

  29. MannyHM says:

    A golf cart and an car colliding head on with each other, who wins ?
    Insurance coverage for the car driver and the golf cart driver has to be resolved also.

  30. Angela Bailus says:

    I am very disappointed in reading about my neighbors telling us to move to the Villages if we want to live our lives the way we want, when many of the golf cart owners were here first! As a Florida native, I am so tired of people moving from elsewhere and trying to change the place. YOU adapt to the place you move to! We have been driving the golf carts, and will continue to do so. Show me the deadly stats here in the Hammock, or in Flagler Beach. Also, low speed vehicles are NOT allowed on A1A or Highway 100, no more rumors please. Try being polite, and live and let live.

  31. YankeeExPat says:

    Golf Carts would bring Venereal Diseases, look what happened with the Villages’

  32. Bc. says:

    If you want carts in you gated Community fine but don’t bring them out on the public roads very bad idea if you want to ride in a death trap move to the villager

  33. snapperhead says:

    Golf carts aren’t allowed on any road where traffic speeds are over 35 mph under state statute so they can’t be on A1A. I hate the thought of being stuck behind one going over the bridge. Move on over gramps!…lol

  34. Beach Guy says:

    Hey Dave Sullivan, if you can’t slow down to 20 MPH (yielding to golf carts) while cruising the back roads of Flagler Beach, perhaps you need to give you more time in the morning to get to church, or stay on the other side of the bridge.

  35. wishful thinking says:

    Good thinking Commissioners Sullivan, Hansen and (hopefully Ericksen) to defeat this idiocy…..! Are we to expect to soon see golf cart commercials that say ‘from 0 to 60mph in 10 minutes.. There are enough communities in existence prior to the development of the Hammocks in Florida to accommodate golf carts on their public roads.

    Almost forgot – hubby wants to know if ‘Riding Lawn Mowers’ can be included also. After all they can go faster than golf carts and ours has room for shopping bags ( and use a lot less gas than our cars..).

  36. John Churn says:

    Based on the comments received most people are not very well informed. It is already legal to drive a golf cart modified to a LSV on county roads 35 mph are under. It is presently not legal to drive on A1A or 100 which are above 35 mph. It is expensive to tag and insure a LSV. The request from the Hammock residents is to pass an oridance to allow them to dive on the exsisting side walks in the Hammock so as to access Bings Landing, Varn Park, and Publics, without having to purchase expensive tags and insurance with their regular golf carts. There is no interest in driving on A1A or 100
    If I have made any spelling errors excuse me for this small screen on my I Phone only let’s me see half of this post.
    I have been driving my LSV in the Hammock for 6 years and have never seen a golf cart in an accident

  37. JTL says:

    We are not asking to drive the cartson A1A, just on the dirt roads and the 8 ft wide paths ALONG A1A.. People should know the facts before they comment.

  38. Joe says:

    Flagler is a town with tons of character and a live let live attitude. Driving a golf cart on the trails or local streets should not be an issue. Bicycles present more of a problem that carts in interfering with joggers and walkers and cyclists ignore the rules of the road way more than they abide by them. No stats on that …just from personal observation and interaction.
    Those against should lighten up and those for should respect the concerns of others and operate the carts with common sense and safety in mind. This talk about it turning into the Villages is silly.
    Don’t change Flagler. It’s great as it is!!!

  39. Luke Luciano says:

    I am a golf cart rider NOt for playing golf as others say..i do as a tax payer i dont bother anyone while driving i enjoy some peaceful time outdoors as i have knee issues and i am not able to walk helps me get outdoors for some fresh air and sunshine.i have a right to drive in a safe manneroff the main highway on a sidewalk at a slow speed being respectful to others walking on the sidewalk and being a responsible driver moving over and let them pass by. People are blowing this all out of control the Hamic is a relaxed area where many people are retired and have a right to go to the beach for convenience store or restaurant or merely to take a ride I enjoy taking my 80-year-old parent on the golf cart for a ride today also can get out and get some fresh air who would normally be homebound. Who the hell is anybody to tell me what I can do if I’m doing it in the safe legal manner. Long time Hammock resident homeowner taxpayer..i support golfcart rides to where ever you go…

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