Avalon to limit golf cars to 130 inches

File photo

The City Council cast 4-1 vote this week directing staff to change the length of allowed autoettes in the Avalon Municipal Code. Staff will return to the council with an amendment to the city code.

The new maximum length for autoettes would be 130 inches.

The amendment, when formally approved, will also prohibit the sale and transfer of over-sized “golf carts” while allowing current owners to keep their vehicles. The proposal is that the owners would get stickers that say the longer carts can’t be resold or transferred.

This won’t become city law immediately. Staff will first have to draft the revised amendment and then bring it back to the council for a first reading (introduction), then a second reading (approval), and then publication.

Councilmember Lisa Lavelle cast the dissenting vote. During the council discussion, Lavelle said she understood the goal of reducing congestion. However, she also believed newer, larger autoettes would be safer and more environmentally sound than other carts.

Lavelle said it seemed to her that the city was always adjusting to what was already in Avalon, rather than looking than looking at what was safe, what doesn’t make noise, and what doesn’t make sense for the community.

Toward the end of the discussion, Lavelle asked how much it would cost to do a traffic study.

Lavelle said she would prefer to make an informed decision. She said she had an issue with making an arbitrary decision without a vehicle study.

However, Councilmember Cinde MacGugan-Cassidy said she had been asking for a transportation study for almost eight years.

Councilmember Michael Ponce said he didn’t have a problem with a study.

The current length limit for “golf carts” is 120 inches. There are 129 registered autoettes that exceed that length, according to the staff report by City Manager Denise Radde and Administrative Analyst Devin Hart. There were 1,140 registered vehicles in all by the end of the local registration season on April 1, according to their report.

Staff recommended changing the code to allow for longer vehicles.

Mayor Anni Marshall suggested that owners of already registered vehicles that exceeded the proposed 130 inch limit get a “grandfathered sticker.”

“I was thinking 130 as well,” said Councilmember Yesenia De La Rosa.

Marshall proposed the non-confirming autoettes be required to have off-street parking. Marshall advocated having color coded stickers to distinguish them from other registered vehicles.

Ponce said he didn’t have a problem with what’s here legal.

He did, however, have a problem with people bringing large autoettes over from the mainland.

“They should know what the parameters should be before they bring something over,” he said.

Lavelle expressed concern for people who wanted to get larger cars and followed the rules but would now be unable to use them.

City Manager Denise Radde said she didn’t know if she would look at the windshield if she bought a cart from Lavelle.

Councilmember Cassidy opposed grandfathering any vehicle that was more than 131 inches long. “If somebody comes in with a 143 inch [autoette] next week, we say no,” Cassidy said.

City Attorney Scott Campbell said until the ordinance is amended, the city should strictly enforce the code it has.