Survey says . . . gas golf cart ban ahead

Thursday night the Peachtree City Council will consider a ban on gas-powered golf carts that would grandfather existing gas carts for 10 years.

But grandfathered carts too would be banned from the city’s paths and streets in 2020 under the proposal brought forth by city staff.

Currently only 5 percent of the registered carts in the city are gas-powered.

The gas-powered cart ban would not apply to local golf courses and it also would be lifted for the July 4 holiday and other tourism events.

Council will discuss the matter during its meeting at City Hall which begins Thursday at 7 p.m.

An electronic survey of citizens showed 80 percent of 1,550 residents favoring the ban, with 13 percent against and 7 percent neutral.

While numerous respondents said gas golf carts are smelly and noisy, to some residents they have more value than electric carts, in particular due to their extended range without down time necessary for charging.

Gas-powered golf carts are better at negotiating big hills and longer distances, some survey respondents said. Gas carts are also cheaper to maintain, and it’s easier to refill them with gas than wait for an electric cart to be charged, some said on the survey.

A few people responding to the survey even argued that gas golf carts pollute less compared to electric carts once lead battery replacement and electricity generation is factored in.

Of the survey respondents, 96 percent owned a golf cart and 95 percent of the golf cart owners who responded had an electric golf cart, which is similar to the city’s overall percentage of electric to gas carts, staff noted in a memo to City Council.

The city also solicited input from local golf cart dealers, and some concern was expressed about their ability to re-sell gas carts taken in via trade-in from local residents. Dealers also told the city that gas carts are more popular with people who buy the larger six-seat carts or plan to use the cart as their primary means of transportation.

Dealers also use gas carts for rentals because out-of-town visitors usually don’t have a way to recharge electric carts, according to the memo.

Among citizen responses, one noted that a gas golf cart is their family’s primary mode of transportation, and an electric cart would not do because of the long amount of time it takes to recharge.

“Basically if I can’t go there by golf cart I don’t want to go,” the respondent said.

“If you live on the south end of PTC and want to go to the north end plus do a little driving around, the charge on many golf carts won’t last,” said another respondent.

Though the overwhelming majority of survey respondents favored banning gas-powered carts, some questioned why the city was even venturing into the issue since there are so few gas-powered golf carts in operation.

“I do not see why Peachtree City needs to ban these carts as there is no evidence that they are detrimental to the community,” one respondent said. “It will also render personal property worthless which is not the job of local government.”

“My dislike of gas carts does not overcome the freedom of other citizens to make their own choice,” said another survey respondent. “This smacks of the heavy hand of the nanny state.”

“If you are banning the golf carts based on pollution or noise then are you going to ban lawn mowers with the same engines?” asked another respondent.

“Strongly opposed,” wrote another respondent. “In fact will consider legal challenge.”

On the other side of the argument, many respondents noted that they dislike traveling behind gas golf carts because of the smell and noise.

“The gas carts are a nuisance and a hazard,” one respondent said. “They are too loud to be used on riding/walking paths, which are supposed to provide for a relaxing experience and they are capable of going too fast.”

“They are loud and smell bad,” wrote another respondent. “I wouldn’t mind not seeing them anymore.”

Of those supporting the ban, a significant number argued that 10 years was too long a period to grandfather existing carts.