Hurricane City Council grapples with concerned citizens defending golf cart use – St George News


Resident of Hurricane Steve Garcia in his golf cart, Hurricane, Utah, June 16, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Steve Garcia, St. George News

HURRICANE – Residents of Sky Mountain Golf Estates made their presence known at the last Hurricane City Council meeting. Taking every seat and standing in the back of the council chamber, residents braced themselves for the battle on the agenda: defending their ability to use recreational golf carts on public roads.

A Hurricane resident speaks before City Council, St. George, Utah, June 16, 2022 | Photo by Truman Burgess, St. George News

The city council has proposed two options for regulating the use of golf carts. Option A would ban golf carts on city roads except for major events like the 4th of July. Golf carts would be permitted to and from events. A driver’s license would be required to drive a golf cart and no driving would be permitted at night.

Option B would allow the golf cart to be used only on roads under 35 mph. This option would not require golf cart drivers to have an official driver’s license, but golf cart drivers would need to be 18 years of age or older.

Option B passed without amendment, three councilors for and two against, allowing Hurricane residents over the age of 18 to drive golf carts on public roads. However, two hours of argument preceded the motion.

Beginning with a line of citizens voicing their opinions, the council chamber quickly became a full room, an unanimated discussion, with eager members of the public yelling at council members’ conversations. Mayor Nanette Billings began to respond to audience members who raised their hands.

Hurricane council chamber fills with local citizens, St. George, Utah, June 18, 2022 | Photo by Truman Burgess, St. George News

Hurricane resident and golf cart owner Carolyn Mills spoke her views directly into the microphone.

“We’re not just golf cart owners,” she said, “we’re a golf cart family!”

Mills didn’t like any of the board’s options, especially the age limit.

“I have never seen a golf cart endanger anyone in our subdivision,” she said. “ATVs? I almost got run over by those. But never a golf cart. We are a family, not a community. We are a family, and this is how we move to take care of each other.

Mills described how a 13-year-old boy from his neighborhood safely leads his grandfather to therapy across the street. Mills said that with this order in place, this kind of family behavior will not be able to occur.

Steve Garcia, a retired LAPD officer, spoke from a law enforcement perspective, saying Option A would be unenforceable and would require citizens to report to each other. He said Option A would rely on an already small police force and would be “a colossal waste of police resources”.

Some citizens were less tactful in sharing their opinions.

“It’s shit!” shouted a woman from the back of the room.

Another Hurricane resident compared council members who impose rules on golf cart use to “Jews who restrict their people with more and more laws.”

Mayor Nanette Billings said using golf carts helps Hurricane residents survive high gas prices and Hurricane has parents smart enough not to let their children drive golf carts indiscriminately.

Councilman David Sanders supported Option A. He recounted how disaster struck the city of Nephi after it legalized golf carts for young people to drive, and he doesn’t want to see that in Hurricane.

Councilman Joseph Prete also supported Option A. He said he was there to represent the whole city, not just golf cart owners. He said he is open to expanding Option A to include other communities and roads, but a driver’s license is a must.

“If we were a resort community that had 12 connected golf courses, that would be different,” he said, “but I don’t think that’s who we are as a city.”

After the motion for Option B passed, Penny James-Garcia, the first speaker at the public hearing, spoke to St. George News about the meeting.

“I appreciate the people on council who listened to their constituents,” she said. “We voted. We elected them to represent our best interests. There were a reasonable number of people here tonight to voice their opinions. And why two (Councillors) felt their opinions mattered more than their constituents I find offensive, but it has happened before and it will happen again.

James-Garcia said she was grateful Mayor Billings was there to hear from Hurricane residents.

“Thank goodness for our mayor, who is in tune with his people. She listened to her people. She has reached out to her residents in the golf course communities, and the council needs their voice.

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