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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Golf cart access expanded to downtown Ocala

Golf cart drivers gained access to downtown Ocala this week as an expanded golf cart map approved earlier this year went into effect.

On Tuesday, August 1, the expanded golf cart map that was approved in April by Ocala City Council members went into effect, incorporating additional streets and areas of the city, including downtown Ocala.

Ocala Golf Cart Map adopted in April 2023
Ocala Golf Cart Map adopted in April 2023

The city of Ocala’s golf cart ordinance went into effect in June 2020 and allows golf carts, mini trucks, and other low-speed vehicles to access certain permitted streets.

Last year, Ocala City Council members requested that staff consider revisions to the ordinance and expand the map to include the downtown area. The city held multiple public meetings to gain feedback from the community.

Citizens expressed concerns about underaged and unlicensed drivers using golf carts, and the city denied the golf cart map expansion as it was presented in November 2022.

Golf Cart Map of Ocala, Florida
The original golf cart map approved in January 2020 did not include downtown Ocala

This year, city officials held two more public meetings to discuss expansion of the golf cart map into downtown Ocala. On April 4, the Ocala City Council approved the new golf cart map.

With the changes, golf carts are now allowed around the downtown square with the boundaries of SW First Avenue to the west, SW/SE Fifth Street to the south, and SE Watula Avenue to the east.

According to the city, the new area is only around half the size of the original area that was considered and denied in November 2022.

Although the changes will allow golf carts from southeast neighborhoods to cross SE Watula Avenue into downtown, the changes do not allow golf carts to cross state roads. The ordinance also does not establish special parking requirements for golf carts.

Currently, anyone operating a golf cart or low speed vehicle within the downtown area is required to register for a one-time permit at a cost of $30. To apply for a permit, visit the City of Ocala golf cart registration webpage to start the application process.

Do you think there are any other places in the city of Ocala where you’d like to see the use of golf carts and other low-speed vehicles permitted? Share your thoughts in a letter to the editor.