Chamber proposes golf cart zone for Birch Bay

By Oliver Lazenby

The Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce has proposed an ordinance allowing golf carts on Birch Bay Drive from Birch Point Loop to Point Whitehorn, a 5.6-mile stretch, and in the neighborhoods immediately inland from Birch Bay Drive.

The Whatcom County Council is accepting comments on the issue until Tuesday, May 22, when the council will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. during its regular meeting.

Golf carts would be required to drive on roadways and have reflectors, seat belts and rearview mirrors. Drivers must be age 16 and have completed a driver’s education course or have experience as a licensed driver.

State law has allowed cities and counties to create local golf cart zones since 2010. Other communities in the state with golf cart zones include Arlington, Orting and Langley.

The Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce proposed the ordinance so that it can continue using golf carts for its events, said chamber president Billy Brown.

While driving a golf cart during Birch Bay’s Sand Sculpture Competition last year, a Whatcom County Sheriff’s Deputy informed Brown that driving golf carts on county roads is illegal. The deputy later pointed out a state law allowing local golf cart zones.

Before passing an ordinance, the county council would need to pass an ordinance changing the speed limit in some Birch Bay neighborhoods to 25 mph, which is required by the state’s golf cart zone laws.

The roads in question are in neighborhoods adjacent to Birch Bay Drive and are  “commonly understood to be 25 mph although they do not have an ordinance designating them as such,” according to a county memo. Roads in Whatcom County have a 35 mph speed limit unless officially designated.

The county council heard from several people in favor of a golf cart zone at a May 8 public hearing and decided to hold the public hearing open for two more weeks.

For more information and a map of the golf cart zone, go to www.co.whatcom.wa.us/DocumentCenter/View/33999/ab2018-125.

To submit comments to the Whatcom County Council via email, use council@co.whatcom.wa.us

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