GULF SHORES — Some residents along West Lagoon Avenue would like golf carts allowed on their street, but city officials said the proposal would create traffic problems, particularly in the …
GULF SHORES — Some residents along West Lagoon Avenue would like golf carts allowed on their street, but city officials said the proposal would create traffic problems, particularly in the summer tourist season.
Gulf Shores City Council was scheduled to vote Monday, Jan. 9, on a request to allow the use of golf carts on West Lagoon Avenue and the intersecting streets of 10th, 11th and 12th streets.
At a council work session Tuesday, Jan. 3, West Lagoon resident Susan Jones said the route meets the criteria to allow golf carts to be used on a municipal street. She said the speed limit is 25 miles an hour and that the route is not a thoroughfare.
"The people who drive down West Lagoon are driving down West Lagoon to go to their house because they have a house down there," she said. "They live down there. They have a beach house down there."
Jones said residents could use carts to reach nearby businesses and would not interfere with beach traffic.
"I don't need to go to another restaurant a mile or two miles away," Jones said. "If I want to go grocery shopping, I'm certainly not going to get in my golf cart and try to drive to Walmart, though. I would go in my car."
She said carts are allowed on Clubhouse Drive next to city hall, which has heavier traffic.
Jones and her husband, Joseph Jones, counted vehicles on Clubhouse Drive and West Lagoon Avenue during the same one-hour period on Jan.1 and Jan. 2. She said they counted 201 cars on Clubhouse Drive and 27 on West Lagoon. The next day, the count was 328 on Clubhouse Drive and 37 on West Lagoon.
She said they are not asking that carts be restricted on busier streets where they are now allowed but for the vehicles to be permitted in their neighborhood.
"As far as what I read that was printed that talked about golf carts and the criteria, then I feel that West Lagoon meets that criteria," Jones said. "So, I'm simply here today to ask to kind of be added to that list. I don't feel that anyone who's already on the list should lose their ability to drive their golf carts. I just want to add our street to that list to make it a golf cart-friendly street."
Gulf Shores Police Chief Ed Delmore said traffic is heavier on West Lagoon during the summer tourist season and that West Lagoon may not be appropriate for golf carts.
"I also know the legislative intent, not only of the State Legislature but also of this council, and that was, again, primarily residential areas, meaning, in my mind and in the police department's view, permanent residents, year-round residents," Delmore said. "The characterization of West Lagoon not being a thoroughfare is one thing, and that can be debated, but a traffic survey on Jan. 2 or Jan. 1 of that area is nothing like a traffic survey that would be in the middle of tourist season."
He said many people staying on West Lagoon in the summer are tourists who might not be aware of rules for the use of golf carts.
"That area, we estimate to be with some pretty good information, is at least nearly 40% vacation rentals, and that's where our concern comes in," Delmore said. "In part because of having to try to regulate people who are not from the area who don't know, who don't understand and haven't been given the information on this ordinance as people on Clubhouse Drive would be or the other areas that we've approved."
He said safety is the main issue when determining where golf carts can be used.
"If we look at the areas that have been approved so far, we have agreed with the approval because of the nature of that neighborhood," Delmore said. "This neighborhood has a different nature, and the residents there are sometimes short-term rental residents who are not going to know that they can't go to West Beach Boulevard, a major concern. It's a safety concern, it's nothing punitive."