Children under the age of 3 could soon be prohibited from riding on a golf cart in Port Aransas, and new construction of short-term rentals could require more parking spaces than before.
Those are some of the recommendations for new golf cart and short-term rental rules that the Port Aransas City Council considered during its meeting Thursday, Jan. 19.
The City Council had a workshop before the council meeting to discuss the recommendations.
The council gave city staff the green light to develop policies and ordinances based on the recommendations, which were made by the Ad-Hoc Short-Term Rental Working Group and Ad-Hoc Golf Cart Working Group. City Council will consider the policies and ordinances at future meetings before any new rules are put in place.
Some recommendations focus on key issues of vacation rental parking and occupancy levels and golf carts driving down State Highway 361 and underage golf cart drivers.
Short-term rental parking concerns usually are when residents have to deal with visitors parking on the side of the road on neighborhood streets. In regard to golf cart matters, driving a golf cart on State Highway 361 is illegal but still commonly happens.
While a current city ordinance prohibits children from riding in a golf cart while in another person’s lap, nothing in the law prevents adults from bringing children on board, no matter how young they are.
Scott Burroughs, chief of the Port Aransas Police Department, said a rule establishing an age restriction for children riding carts would be a good idea.
“It’s like going to Six Flags – there are some rides you can’t ride until you’re this tall,” Burroughs told the council. “And there’s no safe way to put a child that’s this tall in a golf cart. Car seat, no car seat, seatbelt, no seat belt, in the lap, not on the lap – there’s no safe way to do it.”
The golf cart working group recommended making it illegal for children under 3 years old to ride on a cart.
City Manager David Parsons said city staff would bring a few concepts for this recommendation back to council for consideration.
Other golf cart recommendations include:
• Including a minimum standard list of components in a golf cart rental contract.
• Revising the rules sticker for clearer language and incorporating a city map showing where carts aren’t allowed to operate.
• Adding more visible signage on feeder roads to State Highway 361, possibly incorporating flashing LEDs.
• Working with the chamber to create a video of the do’s and don’ts of golf cart use.
• Creating a process where a rental golf cart or a privately owned golf cart would be cited and impounded if certain offenses occur. Those offenses include driving a golf cart on State Highway 361, a sidewalk, hike-and-bike trail or any other areas where golf cart driving is prohibited; underage driving; low beach driving and driving under the influence. Golf cart business owners would be notified and allowed to retrieve the cart. Golf cart passengers would be provided transportation at no cost back to their lodging facility or home.
Two recommendations were eliminated:
• Requiring each potential rental driver to show their proof of liability insurance.
• Requiring individually owned golf carts to have the same type of commercial insurance as fleet rental companies.
Right now, construction of new vacation rentals requires one parking space per sleeping room. The proposed recommendation would require an additional space.
“No off-street parking – I think that’s a little extreme. This is kind of is a stepping stone,”
Councilman Tim Parke said about the recommendations at the workshop. “(Will) this start resolving the problem? It will give us some time, once it’s implemented, to see – is this going to work? … Are we having more problems in other areas and do we modify things?”
Other short-term rental recommendations include:
• Requiring off-street parking spaces to be listed in all advertising.
• Allowing an available garage parking space to be counted toward “available parking.”
• Encouraging or requiring short-term rental owners to use pervious surfaces where more than three parking spaces are needed.
• Marking street areas with red stripes where parking is prohibited due to safety concerns.
• Working with the Port Aransas Tourism Bureau & Chamber of Commerce to create a video on how to be a good neighbor as a renter of a vacation rental and make it widely accessible through QR Code or other means.
City Council directed city staff to establish the two work groups during its Sept. 15 meeting. The groups each met three times – Oct. 11, Oct. 26 and Nov. 19. At the groups’ final meetings, the members agreed to a list of suggestions for short-term rentals and golf carts they felt would create a safer experience for visitors and residents and rental and personal golf cart use, according to city documents.
The short- term rental group consisted of large, medium and small vacation rental owners or operators, residents, City Council members and Planning and Zoning Commission members. The golf cart group was made up of golf cart rental company owners or operators and City Council members. Parke was the chairman of both groups.
Contact Kathryn Cargo at firstname.lastname@example.org.