After a lengthy discussion Monday evening, the El Dorado City Commission voted 3-1 for an ordinance which would allow golf carts, mini trucks and other small vehicles on city streets.
One obstacle with the issue was a state statute that prohibits such vehicles from being on streets over 35 miles per hour.
All of the roads that are in excess of 30 miles per hour, in addition to the state highways, are collector or arterial streets.
“There is an engineering judgement involved in setting those speeds,” said Scott Rickard, assistant city engineer.
One option was to change the speed limits on some of the roads, with them specifically looking at Country Club and McCollum.
“We would be remiss if we didn’t tell you vehicles not built and designed like regular cars and trucks, if they are involved in an accident their outcome is not going to be very good,” said Herb Llewellyn, city manager.
With the ordinance, only licensed drivers can operate the vehicles, and drivers would be required to register with the city and show proof of insurance.
One concern was there would be some people in areas of town who couldn’t get to the golf course or even downtown because of the restrictions on speed limits for streets.
“Personally, I think since we’re considering making this change for a very small group of people and it doesn’t affect everyone equally. I’m not in favor of making any changes,” said Commissioner Shane Krause.
Commissioner Nick Badwey didn’t see a problem with it and suggested making Country Club 30 miles per hour, although a traffic study would have to be done by the city before speed limits were changed.
“I feel we’re really blessed to have a golf course that’s actually in town,” Badwey said.
Commissioner David Chapin was in favor of making it legal to drive such vehicles on streets, but he didn’t want to drop any speed limits.
“I’m not going to put 10 carts ahead of thousands of vehicles,” he said, adding he felt those who drove carts to the golf course lived mainly in the northeast part of town.
Police Chief Tom Boren talked about calls they get on golf carts. He said they use “reasonable enforcement” when dealing with such calls and recent calls have been regarding teenagers driving golf carts on the streets.
Commissioner Bill Young was concerned about the police department having calls coming in and the perception nothing was being done about it.
Page 2 of 2 - “I think the mess we are in is far over exaggerated from the problems you could create,” Boren said. “I’m afraid people are not going to be looking for these unusual vehicles, especially at intersections and corners.”
Young said citizens in his neighborhood with golf carts are wanting to know if they are going to be able to drive them on streets.
City Attorney Jim Murfin said from a legal standpoint it would be better to have an ordinance allowing such use, rather than have police officers use their judgement if to allow it when they see it or get a call.
Chapin agreed it would be best to stay on the right side of the law and made a motion to approve the ordinance, although they decided not to change any speed limits. Chapin, Young and Badwey voted in favor of the ordinance, while Krause was opposed. Mayor Tom McKibban was absent.
The ordinance will take effect right away, but people will not be expected to register their vehicles or show proof of insurance until Jan. 1. This will include a $25 registration fee.