MISLEADING LAKER HEADLINE. If you read the Laker today you may have seen the headline “Golf carts no longer prohibited…not permitted either.” Minnetrista’s city code doesn’t specifically “permit” all kinds of things we do every day like jogging on city roads or even walking on them. That doesn’t mean we can’t do these things, they simply aren’t prohibited and that’s exactly how it will be for golf carts. They will no longer be prohibited in the city code.
This headline incorrectly leads readers to think residents will still not be allowed to use their golf carts on city roads (if they read only the headline which many people do). The word “permitted”, as used in the Laker headline, technically refers to the city officially regulating and issuing “permits” for the operation of golf carts on city roads. The city council has chosen, wisely in my view, not to do that, which means residents will be free to drive their golf carts on city roads without violating Minnetrista’s city code.
City staff and the Mayor were advocating for the regulation and permitting of golf carts and would still like to see that happen. After all, when hasn’t more government regulation been a good thing? I’m disappointed in the Laker for misleading Minnetrista residents.
Poll results on the golf cart issue show overwhelmingly, by close to a 2:1 ratio, Minnetrista residents do not support a new ordinance requiring golf carts to register and pay for a permit to operate on city streets. My guess is the ratio would be closer to 100:1 if the poll were restricted to golf cart owners. We don’t need another level of bureaucracy simply because a developer (who doesn’t live here) wants it. I hope city council listens to it’s residents tonight.
A REQUEST BY A MINNETRISTA HOUSING DEVELOPER WAS RECEIVED BY THE CITY ASKING IT TO FORMALLY AUTHORIZE THE OPERATION OF GOLF CARTS WHICH WOULD REQUIRE AN ORDINANCE TO REGULATE/LICENSE THEM THROUGHOUT THE CITY. The reason for the request is potential home buyers either have golf carts or want to buy them and would feel better knowing they are legal. The developer offered to pay the city’s cost for drafting a new ordinance.
There happens to be a state law that essentially makes the operation of golf carts on city streets anywhere in Minnesota illegal unless a city has an ordinance specifically authorizing their use. Such an ordinance would require golf cart owners to register and pay for a permit to operate on Minnetrista city streets. Minnetrista currently has no such ordinance specifically authorizing golf carts and despite their widespread use has never issued a citation for their operation on city streets.
Golf carts have never really been an issue in Minnetrista since most owners are responsible and use common sense in their operation. They’re generally used without incident locally to transport things around farms or to boat launches and don’t go fast enough to hurt anything. It makes one wonder why it’s necessary to regulate golf carts at all, which are actually slower than bicycles and involved in far fewer accidents.
What one thinks of the state law is irrelevant since Minnetrista has no choice but to be governed by it. We do have a choice, however, of whether we impose permit fees on golf cart owners who have for many years been freely operating their carts in Minnetrista.
Is it a legitimate role of a city council to impose fees upon constituents for the convenience of a housing developer? This is not, and never has been, a safety concern. How many hours of staff time would be required to process new permits, renew expired ones, maintain records and enforce the new rules governing where and when they can be driven and under what circumstances? We’ve been told the revenue from the permits would cover the staff time but this revenue comes from resident’s pockets and that’s the bigger concern.
Governmental jurisdictions pass laws all the time they don’t enforce consistently and some they don’t enforce at all. I’m generally of the opinion we shouldn’t pass laws we don’t intend to enforce but in this case the state statute isn’t something we, as a city, can change.
Let’s not create more government red tape when there are no safety reasons to do so. Our current city code on this matter has served the community well over the years and there isn’t any good reason to change it. A good reason to change something requires a benefit to the community at large and my guess is most Minnetrista residents with golf carts and even those without wouldn’t see it that way.