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Guest Commentary: Planning Commission should reject rentals of low speed vehicles

October 19, 2016
By MIKE MILLER - COTI President ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The Oct. 25 meeting of the Sanibel Planning Commission is scheduled to include consideration of an application for a conditional use permit allowing the establishment on Sanibel of a business that will rent up to 15 "low speed vehicles."

The term "low speed vehicle" is a euphemism that describes an open-air vehicle, similar to a golf cart, that is allowed, under federal regulations, to operate on public streets without having the full range of safety devices that would generally be required for an automobile provided that its maximum speed be mechanically limited to 25 miles per hour.

The Planning Commission should reject the application for several reasons.

First, the applicable Sanibel ordinance requires that an application for a conditional use permit must establish that "... the proposed use will not adversely affect the traffic flow to a greater extent than a permitted use." The application includes a traffic study that compares the expected traffic to and from the rental location as compared to a permitted use of the same location. But what's missing is the impact on traffic by the very use of the vehicles. Vehicles of this nature are not just used to get from "A to B;" they are used for recreation. In the words of the application, the operation will create an open-air option allowing "visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the Island." These vehicles will increase congestion on our already clogged roads, and for this reason alone, the application should be denied.

Second, the mechanically-limited 25 mph maximum speed of these vehicles would slow traffic movement on some of our roads and possibly create a safety hazard.

Third, the applicable Sanibel ordinance generally requires that the conditional use being requested "... shall be inherently beneficial to the community or reasonably necessary to its convenience." There is nothing in the application, nor is there any inference that can reasonably be made, to suggest that the rental of these overgrown go-carts will benefit the Sanibel community in any way.

Fourth, and most important of all, under the law the conditional use requested must be in accord with the Sanibel Plan. In specific terms, section 3.3.3 of the plan sets forth the objective of reducing auto (vehicle) ridership; establishing an on-island vehicle rental operation does not further that objective.

And in more general terms, the plan, and the Sanibel Vision, reflect a hierarchal structure in which uses that serve the community are allowed only if the qualities of sanctuary are retained, and uses that represent an attraction are allowed only if both qualities of sanctuary and community are retained. The rental of these go-carts to tourists so they can ride up and down Sanibel streets would be an attraction inconsistent with both sanctuary and community.

For all of the above reasons, each one of which would be sufficient by itself, the conditional use application should be rejected by our community's Planning Commission.

COTI invites your input on this and other issues affecting our island. Send an email to To read our past commentaries on island issues, visit our website at Or visit Committee of the Islands on Facebook.



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