Q: I’ve heard state law allows people to drive golf carts on some public roads and streets. Why can’t I do that in my neighborhood? Norman M., Tacoma
A: Well, most likely because nobody’s petitioned Norman’s local government for permission to do so.
He’s right that state law allows the creation of “golf cart zones” in certain areas.
The law authorizing it is RCW 46.08.175, which begins:
“The legislative authority of a city or county may by ordinance or resolution create a golf cart zone, for the purposes of permitting the incidental operation of golf carts ... upon a street or highway of this state having a speed limit of 25 miles per hour or less.”
The law prescribes other requirements and restrictions, including that golf cart drivers must be at least 16 years old and have “completed a driver education course or have previous experience as a licensed driver.”
You’re also not allowed to drive them at night.
A city or county that establishes such a zone must mark said zone with signs and keep track of any collisions involving golf carts within the zone.
While Norman’s mailing address is Tacoma, he lives in the unincorporated area of Pierce County between the Brookdale Golf Course and Frederickson.
He says the area is quiet and that he’d prefer to drive a golf cart for short trips around his neighborhood rather than use his pickup.
“I don’t have a golf cart yet, but I’d get one if I could drive it around here,” he told us.
A review of the Pierce County code revealed no golf cart zones in the unincorporated area.
Calls for confirmation of that and how Norman might apply for creation of a zone in his neighborhood went unanswered by county officials last week.
There is a place where Norman could drive a golf cart on the streets, but he’d have to move out to the lahar zone.
Orting established a golf cart zone in 2009, and the City Council rewrote and adopted an ordinance again in 2011 after RCW 46.08.175 went into effect.
There was some hand-wringing at the time over safety concerns, but city police last week reported no significant troubles associated with people driving their carts on the street.
That might be because the golf-cart craze never took hold, said City Administrator Mark Bethune.
“It hasn’t taken off the way we thought it would,” he said. “We only have 10 electric golf carts registered with the city.”