Several ideas ran through Tuesday night’s Key Biscayne Village golf cart ordinance workshop, including possible impoundment of golf carts for flagrant violators, improved education, colored stripes on Crandon Boulevard and stricter enforcement of the rules – all to create a safer community with low-speed vehicles.
“Looking at this, I understand that this is a controversial subject,” said new police chief Frank Sousa. “In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve seen violations…I’ve seen kids on golf carts with no regard for anyone else.”
But, he said, there is a ‘line of demarcation’ between trying to get young people ‘to be on our side’ and strict enforcement – like whether the parents are fine or the carts are confiscated, as Council member Brett Moss suggested; or young people lose their driving privileges until the age of 18, an idea supported by Council member Allison McCormick.
“We try to hire young people because they are our future,” said Sousa, who suggested a six-month penalty on driving privileges instead of being penalized until the age of 18. The last thing Sousa wants to happen, and this concern has also been raised by Councilman (Ignacio) Segurola, is an accident.
Segurola raised the idea of taking a closer look at Key Biscayne’s current book ordinances, which date back to 2009, when the city established a golf cart safety council. One of his biggest concerns is keeping LSVs from traveling more than the legal one-block limit on Crandon Boulevard.
“I’m fine with golf carts in residential areas, but a tragedy is waiting to happen on Crandon Boulevard,” Segurola said, knowing there must be exceptions at intersections and in areas like the south of Seaview Drive. “We all know there’s a problem – pick a problem…driving in the left lane, (minor) children driving, no seatbelts, no (orange) rear triangle.
“We have a rule, but the problem is that they all ignore it,” he added, “and if we have an unenforceable rule, we have to change it.”
One of his ideas that may have gained momentum — if Village Attorney Chad Friedman can negotiate with Miami-Dade County Public Works officials, which oversees this boulevard — is to paint stripes of any color exiting the bike lane to reassure motorists and golf cart drivers know where four-wheeled open-top vehicles may cross.
There will however be no additional signage on the road as the Village tries to reduce ‘sign pollution’.
Golf carts – about 1,000 in Key Biscayne – were at the forefront of concerns earlier this year when several were stolen or vandalized, and children have had more time to mess with homeschooling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Mike Davey, who has a golf cart and said he learned his lesson on a rainy Friday night after he was pulled over while driving south past Village Green, agrees there need to be changes to the ordinances current.
“I saw people driving on the sidewalks and it’s dangerous,” he said.
He realizes that there are certain exceptions to traveling on Crandon, such as people from Key Colony, who use it as an entrance, or people who go to the library.
One idea being considered is to strictly use Fernwood Road for trolley access at the back of the shopping corridor, and possibly make more curb cuts to allow entry to, for example, The Arcade, and possibly a connector between the Galleria and The Square.
This would likely encourage commercial property owners to gain more traffic, McCormick said.
In public comments, resident Donald Elisburg said police just had to deal with underage drivers, those without seat belts and those who overloaded passenger carts.
“If these three people were treated aggressively, you wouldn’t have any problems,” he said, “but until that happens, we will have the same problems.”
McCormick said parents can, under current guidelines, be fined and a child could become ineligible to obtain a driver’s license until the age of 18.
“You have my full support (for strict enforcement and sanctions),” she said.
Moss brought up the idea of confiscating the golf carts at a location off the island. “It’s expensive, difficult and it would let parents know what their children are doing.”
Village manager Steve Williamson said all ideas will be considered and discussed at the next village council meeting on November 16.