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If you're an owner of a golf cart in Clear Lake, you may be in need of updates to it. 

During a Clear Lake City Council special session meeting Monday, council members reviewed an amendment to the current ordinance on operating golf carts within the city.  

Golf cart updates

Golf carts will soon require safety upgrades in order to be operated on public streets in Clear Lake.

A handful of changes were proposed, with the most significant being a requirement to add seat belts to any rear-facing seats on golf carts. Any person under the age of 18 would also be required to wear a seat belt at all times when sitting in a rear-facing seat. The amendment to the current ordinance was proposed by Clear Lake Police Chief Pete Roth. 

The topic originally came up at a council workshop meeting earlier in November, when members of the council raised concerns about the safety of golf-cart use within the city. 

Council member Bennett Smith confirmed with Roth that for owners to be granted a golf-cart permit for the year, a seat belt for rear-facing seats would be required under the proposed amendment to the ordinance, regardless of whether the seat is ever used. 

"What we find is that you may have a long lost relative show up and want to borrow your cart, and want to ride with somebody," Roth explained. 

If a cart isn't already equipped with a seat belt, it doesn't necessarily mean anyone would need to buy a whole new golf cart.  

Skip Miller of Miller & Sons Golf Cart in Britt said that adding a seat belt to rear-facing seats in a golf cart is something that can be done, noting that the cost of the update would differ from golf cart to golf cart.  

Another amendment proposed to the ordinance is to clarify the language regarding the riders on the golf cart. The number of people who can ride in a golf cart would remain the same, which is the max capacity allowed by the manufacturer, but language would be added to denote that riders cannot be seated on the lap of another person in the cart. 

Alongside the proposed changes the cost for a yearly permit would increase to $40 from the $25 it sits at now. Fines may also increase for those improperly operating their cart. The updated fine for violations are $105 for a first offense, and $150 for a second or subsequent offense. 

"The popularity of this mode of transportation has increased," Roth explained on why the price of permits increased. "The number of staff, time to inspect, process and approve (permits) has increased with that."

Council member Mike Callanan said the changes were long overdue. 

"I don't think it's a big secret that... I've had concerns about what we had on the books, and most of that had to do with safety." Callanan said. "I'm just thrilled to get it to this point — I know not everyone will be thrilled with the change — but I stand by the safety features of it." 

Those comments were backed by council member Gary Hugi.

"Mike (Callanan) and I have talked about this for the past five years, and I support this 100 percent," Hugi said. 

The first reading of the amendment to the ordinance was approved unanimously by the city council, 5-0. 

City administrator Scott Flory said that the ordinance will have its second reading in the city council meeting on Monday, Dec. 6, and its third and final reading on Monday, Dec. 20. 

If the amendments pass, the changes would go into effect beginning Jan. 1, 2022.  

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Zachary Dupont covers politics and business development for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at 641-421-0533 or Follow Zachary on Twitter at @ZachNDupont

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