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 CastleHillsCommunity.com 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.
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.
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:
- Send out an educational flier with an upcoming water bill (see Proposed Golf Cart Flyer).
- 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.
- Raise the sales tax in the commercial areas (Target, Rosa’s, etc.) by ¼ cent to match The Colony and Lewisville.
- 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.
- 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:
- The boards can pass Castle Hills specific ordinances, but historically LVPD has been reluctant to enforce anything other than state or county regulations.
- This allows for the reasonable operation of golf carts within the neighborhood.
- 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.