In 2021, the State of Texas pass a law allowing golf carts and other vehicles to operate on roads with speeds less than 35 miles per hour and on public beaches, with certain restrictions.
One of the requirements for vehicles to be allowed to operate is that they must have a state-registered license plate.
Golf carts have been permitted on North Padre Island since 2011, and in 2019 utility vehicles were added.
The island’s strategic action committee is trying to get the city of Corpus Christi to enforce the requirement for vehicles to have license plates on the island.
“That’s all in general; it’s safety, being on the dunes, it’s uneducated drivers going down 22. It just creates more responsibility, and if we get ahead now, we’ll be better off,” said member Michael Pittman. of the ISAC, and the head of the designated sub-committee on this matter.
Requiring a license plate will be helpful for islanders, as well as law enforcement, to be able to more easily resolve issues as they arise.
“It’s just for identification purposes,” said Randy Wilbanks, who is also on ISAC. “If you’re on the beach and a golf cart hits you, or a UTV, and drives off, and you call the cops and tell them you got hit by a black UTV, 90% of them are black. He needs some kind of identification on it, like we have cars.
The hope is also that the licenses will reduce the number of people driving recklessly with the vehicles and traveling where they are not allowed, as the identification will make their actions traceable.
Wilbanks and Pittman said the license plate would only cost an individual $14.75 and is a lifetime license.
Wilbanks owns North Padre Cart Rentalsand owns over 75 golf carts that he rents out.
He said he was in favor of the licenses, even though he would probably be the person most affected by their implementation.
“As a rental operator with over 75 carts, I’m going to buy most of the plates,” he laughed. “A lot of times people blame the tourists. It’s not just the tourists. I see more locals causing trouble than all the tourists.
Pittman said ISAC is trying to educate islanders and how they will be affected by the implementation of the requirements.
There is a Town Forum next Tuesday at the Boathouse Bar and Grill, located at 15241 Leeward Dr., at 5:30 p.m.