“Give government an inch and they will surely take a mile,” one observer told Historic City News after the St Augustine City Commission approved a revised taxicab ordinance presented by Assistant City Attorney Denise May.
The new ordinance, which some commissioners were unsuccessfully lobbied to include restrictions on vehicle age, mileage, and other aesthetics, had not been enacted fifteen minutes before Commissioner Roxanne Horvath and Leanna Freeman began pushing to expand it into the area of low-speed vehicles.
“As to the low-speed vehicle, that is Florida statute driven,” May cautioned commissioners. “They are indeed required to have headlights and taillights, but as to their ability to be on the roads — that is permitted by state law.”
Freeman, who lives in south Davis Shores, focused on Anastasia Boulevard’s 40 mile-per-hour speed limit. She complained that it poses a risk to her when she encounters a low-speed vehicle in traffic that can’t go more than 22 miles-per-hour.
Despite Horvath and Freeman’s efforts to eliminate properly licensed, insured, and equipped low-speed vehicles, the fact is that there is no minimum speed requirement on those roads.
May reiterated, “Anastasia Boulevard is a state road, so unless the Florida Department of Transportation tells them they can’t be there, they can be there.”
Historic City News editor Michael Gold spoke Friday with one local businessman who rents low-speed vehicles. He said the city police have been to his place of business to “warn” him about his low-speed vehicles, then he showed us a highlighted letter with an officer’s business card attached. He went on to say that some of his customers said they were actually stopped by city police for going too slow in faster traffic, although none reported being given a ticket.
The businessman, who feared retribution if he spoke on the record, said that the city should not be stretching Florida’s existing traffic laws which apply to all state roads; including Anastasia Boulevard, King Street, San Marco Avenue, and Ponce de Leon Boulevard.
Horvath raised the specter of waiting for a traffic accident to occur before acting and insisted that the city attorney’s office take a request to FDOT asking for additional restrictions on low-speed vehicles operating on state roads within the city limits. Freeman chimed in support, and without objection from the commission, May agreed to forward their concerns, “particularly if data analysis shows the need.”