Golf Carts

Please note – this posting reflects the views of 1B Director Patrick Kelly only and is not necessarily representative of the official views of the 1B board, the 1A board, or any other governing entity within Castle Hills.  Your feedback is welcome on this site or email me directly.

There has been a lot of discussions regarding the use of golf carts on the roads of Castle Hills over the past several weeks.  Aside from neighbors contacting me directly, I’ve seen discussion on both the wiki and Facebook.  Opinions range from “leave things the way they are” all the way to “ban them all”.  As part of this discussion, many people are quoting pieces of regulations, what they have heard, and observations from other areas.  As such, let me start with what the 1A legal department of Castle Hills feels are the applicable regulations.

Synopsis of Kelly Hart Memo distributed to the 1D Board of Directors on May 30, 2012

This is my condensed version of a memo distributed on May 30, 2012 from the 1D legal counsel.  The full memo can be found here.  It is worth noting that Director Ehinger ask for some clarification regarding Neighborhood Electric Vehicles but follow-through was lacking.  I’ve included the pertinent regulations at the end of this synopsis.

State Law

Section 551.403(a) states:

(a)  An operator may operate a golf cart:

(1)  in a master planned community:

(A)  that has in place a uniform set of restrictive covenants; and

(B)  for which a county or municipality has approved a plat;

(2)  on a public or private beach; or

(3)  on a public highway for which the posted speed limit is not more than 35 miles per hour, if the golf cart is operated:

(A)  during the daytime; and

(B)  not more than two miles from the location where the golf cart is usually parked and for transportation to or from a golf course.

 In the opinion of the 1D legal counsel, the applicable section of this code is (3).  The first part to consider is the posted speed limit and clearly we have a speed limit of less than 35 mph throughout Castle Hills.  The next part refers to “daytime” which is legally defined as 30 minutes before dawn and 30 minutes after sunset.  The final relevant section speaks of driving the golf cart less than 2 miles from where it is usually parked for the purposes to of transportation to and from a golf course.

Section 551.404 has also been cited by many residents.  However, it does not state golf carts are allowed or disallowed in neighborhoods such as Castle Hills, only that the governing bodies may pass ordinances prescribing their operation.  Further, it states if the governing bodies, in our case the district boards 1B-1H, do allow golf carts then these carts must have certain characteristics such as headlamps, reflectors, mirrors, etc.

Regardless of the legislation, the code only defines “operator” and does not explicitly provide for an age restriction of any kind.

Local Regulations

All that said, state code does allow for municipalities to build upon state regulations as seen fit.  Many local regulations provide for such things as flags, age restrictions, mandating operators have a valid driver’s license, and limiting the number of passengers.  Several area municipalities, such as Providence Village and Frisco, have taken advantage of this flexibility.  This is perhaps how confusion arises as to what is legal and what is not.  It would not be unreasonable for a Castle Hills resident to be talking with a Frisco resident who did not understand the rules pertaining to golf carts in Frisco are localized additions to state regulations.

Distinct Options Outlined in the 2012 Memo

The 1D legal counsel outlines two options, both of which require coordination with Lewisville.  The first option is to strictly enforce 551.403(a)(3).  However, this would still place no age restrictions on the operations of gold carts within Castle Hills.  The second option would be to follow in the footsteps of Frisco and Providence Village and draft ordinances specific to the needs of our neighborhood.

Other Possible Regulations

Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (similar to golf cart regulations)

Sec. 551.301.  DEFINITION.  In this subchapter, “neighborhood electric vehicle” means a vehicle that can attain a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour on a paved level surface and otherwise complies with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 500 (49 C.F.R. Section 571.500).

All-terrain vehicle (Not allowed on Castle Hills roads or green space such as parks or medians)

502.001. DEFINITIONS.  In this chapter:

(1)  “All-terrain vehicle” means a motor vehicle that is not a golf cart and is:

(A)  equipped with a saddle or bench for the use of the rider;

 (B)  designed to propel itself with three or more tires in contact with the ground;

(C)  designed by the manufacturer for off-highway use by the operator only;  and

(D)  not designed by the manufacturer primarily for farming or lawn care.

Current Proposed Direction

I met with Phil Brosseau, the 1A General Manager on Wednesday June 11th.  He proposed a different tact that I think makes a lot of sense.  As I stated in the opening of this post, opinions vary greatly from “ban them all” to “leave everything as is”.  Mr. Brosseau’s solution is a multi-step process as follow:

  1. Send out an educational flier with an upcoming water bill (see Proposed Golf Cart Flyer).
  2. Send out a typical release of liability and suggest anyone owning a golf cart have this signed by a responsible party before allowing anyone to ride in their golf cart.
  3. Raise the sales tax in the commercial areas (Target, Rosa’s, etc.) by ¼ cent to match The Colony and Lewisville.
  4. Use the increased revenue to have dedicated police patrols 7 days a week Castle Hills.  These will most likely be a random 4 hour patrol each day.
  5. Use current safety regulations instead of attempting to interpret existing regulations or pass additional regulation,.  For example, when an officer sees 7 kids on a cart at 10PM at night they have a wide latitude of options including confiscating the cart and escorting the kids home or simply providing a warning.

In my mind, this proposal has a few benefits to the options proposed in 2012:

  1. The boards can pass Castle Hills specific ordinances, but historically LVPD has been reluctant to enforce anything other than state or county regulations.
  2. This allows for the reasonable operation of golf carts within the neighborhood.
  3. It removes interpretation issues with the current legislation.  And make no mistake, it is a bit confusion.  The AG has even weighed in here.

As the majority of concerns I have seen revolve more around kids behaving recklessly and less around adults driving to Lunada for dinner, I am fully in support of this proposed compromise between the two extremes.

Patrick Kelly
DCFWSD 1B Director
text follow @CHGov to 40404


15 Responses

  1. Shannon Baker

    Thanks for the balanced approach you are taking on this. It is clear you are doing your best to enrich the position with care and common sense.

  2. Lindsay Hambright

    Isn’t the “proposed direction” a little extreme? I mean, you’re talking raising taxes, having 24/7 police monitoring and giving police the latitude to confiscate personal property because we have a few irresponsible teenagers in the neighborhood? This is definitely “not a balanced approach”. What about just setting some rules about how old you have to be to operate a golf cart in the neighborhood, and how many people can be on it and educating homeowners / parents? Violators can be fined.

    We already have enough of a police state and more government is not the solution! This problem can easily be solved with more parental involvement and control over their kids and golf carts.

    • Patrick Kelly

      Thank you for the feedback. I probably should have been more clear, but the 4 hour a day / 7 day a week patrol concept was not solely motivated by golf carts. That would indeed probably be overkill for this situation. There are other benefits to this approach. For example, recently a house being built up north was broken into. Iron Guard security happened upon the break-in and notified Lewisville PD. The response time was 15 minutes. The concept is the perception of a larger police presence would act as a deterrent to all sorts of unwanted behavior, including burglary. I think if you ask most officers they would much rather have a crime not happen at all than to punish someone who has already committed one.

      Regarding the police state, I suspect we have different thoughts as to how much government is too much. I am entirely in agreement that less government is generally better than more. It is with this in mind that I assert enforcing the laws already available around unwanted and dangerous behavior, up to and including confiscation of personal property that is being used in a reckless and dangerous way, is actually less intrusive than passing new laws.

      I also agree more parental involvement would be great. This is absolutely the concept behind the flyer to be distributed in an upcoming water bill. However, just speaking for myself, I would have tremendous difficulty living with the knowledge I killed a kid regardless of how irresponsible their parents were or how in the right I am.

    • Eric Shaw

      I think the most alarming observance is not a few irresponsible teenagers, but the growing number of significantly younger children driving a golf cart on our streets. I have repeatedly seen children that can’t be more than 10-12 years old driving a cart with friends and zero parental supervision down King Arthur or Lady of the Lake. This past weekend alone, in one 3-4 minute drive on King Arthur from Merlin to Old Denton, twice, I came across young children (no more than 12 years old) operating a golf cart that either exited from an alley right in front of my car or unexpectedly u-turned right in front of my car, forcing me to come to a complete stop to avoid hitting them. I was traveling no more than 25-27 mph and still had to react very quickly to avoid a collision. I am becoming more and more convinced that is is not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when” we have to deal with a serious injury or injuries due to the negligence of the parents in properly supervising their children. Please let’s not wait as a community to pass an ordinance, community guideline, age limitation, etc. after something tragic happens. I would sincerely hope that we can enforce an age and/or a driver’s license limitation to operate a cart on our neighborhood roads.

    • SS

      I agree with Lindsay. The “compromise” solution seems very extreme. Why aren’t we asking why we aren’t getting a better turn around time than 15 minutes from LPD? We already pay plenty of taxes!

      • Patrick Kelly

        Thank you for your feedback. I’ve been monitoring discussions on Nextdoor, Facebook, LinkedIn, the CastleHillsCommunity Wiki, as well as our own 1B site. The goal is to provide a better presence in the community as effectively as possible. A by product of that should a decrease in reckless and unsafe behavior all the way around – especially on the road. In my mind, this means:
        1. Using existing regulations instead of implementing new ones.
        2. Having someone around that can enforce #1.
        3. Paying for the work done in #2.

        Because the 1B board members are all Castle Hills residents, paying the say taxes as everyone else, we continue to look for ways to keep costs and the associated revenue needed to cover those costs to a minimum. Funding police and fire from the sales taxes generated by shops like Target moved about $400,000 out of expenses we had to pay for directly through property taxes and water/sewer revenue. All that said, I do think we can cover some dedicated patrols out of the current coffers for a short period of time. It probably will not be 4 hours a day, 7 days a week. But probably more like 3 hours a day 3 days a week for a couple of months. After this, we can evaluate:

        1. Are we seeing any benefits?
        2. Do we want to continue this?
        3. Do we want to increase the presence?
        4. If so, how do we finance this?

        Patrick Kelly
        DCFWSD 1B Director
        follow us on twitter: text ‘follow @CHGov’ to 40404

  3. Let's Be Safe

    I actually think having more patrol would be a good thing not just for policing the golf carts but dealing with all the stop sign runners and speeders through the neighborhood. I agree that we need to put a minimum age (personally I think 16) and a max number of people in the cart based on the seating within the golf cart.

  4. BW

    Great Job Patrick, good solid approach and coming up with recommendations. I am inclined to say leave it as is, but it should be looked at as a privilege. Could we have a safe operator program so these kids can learn safe operations and a licensing system, better way to use tax revenue. I am however, not a fan of increasing patrol with more cops in the neighborhood. I think for 3 years now we’ve seen an increase of police and we’ve also seen an increase in criminal activity. If they are a deterrent, it’s not working and after the incident from last week with seeing cops with rifles in our neighborhood. I know, good intentions…but, this is not the type of mentality and responsiveness I want increased in our neighborhood and there wasn’t even a crime. If they did more to help our neighborhood I’d be willing to listen, but we are looked at as a revenue source, that’s it. I’d be more in favor of technology in the neighborhood to keep everyone honest at stop signs, speed limits and maybe even more . I’m all for a safer neighborhood, but more cops does look gestapo.

    • Shannon Baker

      I could not agree with you more! Sad to say, my view of the local police force has sunk to increasingly low levels. It is very hard not to feel like we are viewed as having deep pockets, and they aim to dig in even deeper. They always seem to be present to catch you going 35 on lady of the lake – going downhill – but take 15 minutes to respond to a potential threat? I do not care to have more of them around. I would heartily agree to some sort of safety class with licensing/certificate issued upon completion…. That way the kids are uniformly learning the same things.

      • Tiffany

        I agree with Shannon. We see police officers frequently in the morning trying to give speeding tickets on King Arthur after you have exited the neighborhood than trying to patrol the school during school zone hours. There’s numerous elementary schools (Polser, Indian Creek, Coyote Ridge, Castle Hills, Independence or even Killian MS) where the police could provide a safer environment by monitoring the school zone than someone driving 29-32 MPH at the exit of the community.

  5. Kevin Brookmole

    I am 100% against raising taxes. That is always a knee jerk answer to problems. We are already taxed to death. In reference to added Police, I have seen first hand how they already harrass the kids and adults alike handing out frevilous citations. Parents are responsible fior raising their kids and making sure they do the right thing.

    • Patrick Kelly

      I truly appreciate the healthy exchanging of ideas across all the various places this information has been posted., Facebook, LinkedIn, Castle Hills wiki, our own twitter account, etc. The whole reason 1B has our own website, webcasts our meetings (or at least tries), makes all board paperwork available, tweets, etc. is specifically to allow for heathy discourse and transparency.

      I see how it can be easy to assume all politicians are the same (even simple water board directors). Further, I can see how it can be easy to assume raising the sales tax to be the same as the other municipalities in the area is a knee jerk reaction. One could also assert that these views are also knee jerk reactions in their own right. That said, I would invite anyone not familiar with the 1B board to examine the accomplishments. We have the lowest tax rate of any district at .88 and typically the lowest water and sewer rates. Every bit of that was hard fought and worth the ever bit of the effort.

  6. Patrick Kelly

    I have filed a FOIA request to examine all the traffic tickets issued in CH form 1/1/2014 – 5/31/2014 (see link above).

    Patrick Kelly
    DCFWSD 1B Director
    follow us on twitter: text ‘follow @CHGov’ to 40404

    • BW

      Patrick, can we expand the FoIA to include crime stats for the neighborhood over the past 5 years…? The perception is, crime has increased year over year, if we look back 5 years has it increased or decreased and what is the trend thus far for 2014? We’ve also seen an increase of patrols in the neighborhood, going somewhere 3-4 years back. Are they getting any suspects, convictions and/or restitution made back to neighbors who have been victimized.

      if the data shows an increase in crime, that gives us cause to say it’s not working and we work as a community to solve our issue, not theirs…ours. The idea to raise taxes to support a nickel slot, hoping that it pays off does not seem justified to me when they’ve had at least 3 years to show value, other than citation writing.

  7. John

    I think having an increased police presence would be good, and I would be all for a tax increase. We have a terrible issue with idiots driving too fast. My house backs up to Windhaven and I see cars driving 40-50 down that street all the time. I also think there needs to be an age limit on golf carts and that it needs to be enforced. Country Clubs require you to be 16 so why not Castle Hills. But, then your probably get a bunch of parents who say “but we work and how else are our children supposed to get around the neighborhood”. Here’s a revolutionary Idea from my childhood. WALK!!!!!!!

    But, that’s just my opinion

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