Myrtle Beach parking battle could be deciding factor in November elections


It’s a battle that has been brewing for more than a year, and it could reach a boiling point in November when Myrtle Beach residents go to the polls.

“We have a lot of city residents who want to vote the mayor and some city council members out in November,” said Rich Malzone, a spokesman for Make Myrtle Beaches Free, Clean and Safe. 

Malzone is the driving force behind the advocacy group, Make Myrtle Beaches Free, Clean and Safe.

“Our group is mostly tourists, full-time residents and part-time residents who live a block from the ocean and can’t park,” said Malzone.

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Rich Malzone, spokesman for Make Myrtle Beaches Free, Clean and Safe promises to fight paid parking until a compromise is reached.    Photo: Sharon Tutrone

The group went from idea to reality in July of 2016 after Myrtle Beach city officials implemented parking regulations along the Golden Mile, which stretches from 31st Avenue North to 53rd Avenue North.

Residents who live outside the city limits and tourists pay $2 an hour or $10 a day to park on this stretch of road.

The city instituted paid parking in that area because residents there complained of visitors parking in their yards and disrupting the neighborhood.

“We want fair access to the beach,” said Malzone. “The city is turning the beach into a private beach for those who live on the Golden Mile. It is those residents who are also donors to these campaigns of the mayor and the city council.”

Malzone is hoping the city and the group can meet in the middle.

“We need the mayor and the city council to approach us and say let’s work out a compromise this year, not wait until after the election,” said Malzone.

Malzone is hoping the city will compromise by offering a $100 non-resident parking pass which will be valid for all residents outside the city limits and part-time residents. Malzone said that pass should also be valid for all city metered parking spaces.

“The City of Myrtle Beach has decided to go to war with 200,000 people. Their best customers, the ones who support the city in November, December, January, and February,” said Malzone. “The city has gone to war with them over 400 parking spots.”

Malzone says until they hear from the city, he along with the more than four thousand members in the group will continue to fight the fight to bring “free” back to parking.

The parking ordinance remains in effect until October 31st.

Lawmakers come together to reopen Golden Mile parking to public

The battle at the beach over paid parking along the Golden Mile is headed to the South Carolina State house.

South Carolina Representatives Kevin Hardee and Jeff Johnson, who both represent Horry County, have filed a bill that would limit the reach of the ordinance.

“Lots of bills get filed in the General Assembly but never see the light of day,” said Mark Kruea, a public information officer for the City of Myrtle Beach.

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Bill filed in SC Statehouse to limit the Golden Mile parking ordinance in Myrtle Beach. Photo: Sharon Tutrone

Last year Myrtle Beach implemented parking regulations along the Golden Mile between 31st and 82nd Avenues North.  Tourists and residents who live outside the city limits pay $2 per hour or $10 a day to park. The fees are in effect every day from 9 a.m. to midnight and drivers can pay the parking cost on their cell phones through the Parkmobile system.

“The city instituted paid parking in that area because residents there complained of visitors parking in their yards and disrupting the neighborhood,” Kruea said.

According to the bill, parking privileges for Myrtle Beach residents that are not available to non-city residents would have to be approved by state lawmakers.

“This would seem to contradict the idea of Home Rule since it takes decision-making power away from local governments,” Kruea said. “Such a broad bill that proposes to move those decisions to Columbia would affect more communities than just Myrtle Beach. ”

Calls and emails to the two legislators who filed this bill have not been returned.

While the two sides continue to throw jabs, others are hoping a compromise can be reached.

“There are less than 2,000 houses along the Golden Mile. That is what this fight is about they want a private beach, and we want to use the beach,” said Rich Malzone, a spokesman for Make Myrtle Beaches Free, Clean and Safe.

Malzone formed the advocacy group, Make Myrtle Beaches Free, Clean and Safe, after the parking ordinance went into effect.

Malzone is hoping the city will compromise by offering a $100 non-resident parking pass, which will be valid for all residents outside the city limits and part-time residents.

“We are the good neighbors, we don’t want us verse them, we support this city. They need our money, you can’t have our money if you don’t let us come,” Malzone said.

The parking ordinance is in effect until October 31.

Myrtle Beach Parking Wars

To see a map of the Golden Mile where parking fees are in effect click on the linkhttp://www.animaps.com/pb/323940001/567/Golden_Mile#c=true;e=true
Courtesy: http://www.cityofmyrtlebeach.com/boulevardparking.html
Infographic created by: Sharon Tutrone
Software used: Animaps http://www.animaps.com/edit.html

To see a map where the Pavilion Parking Garage is located click on the link: http://www.animaps.com/pb/335060001/7711/Pavilion_Parking_Garage#c=true;e=true                                                                                      Courtesy: http://www.cityofmyrtlebeach.com
Infographic created by: Sharon Tutrone                                                                                       Software used: Animaps http://www.animaps.com/edit.html

 

Temperatures aren’t the only thing heating up in Myrtle Beach. Tempers are flaring over a move made by the Myrtle Beach City Council that will affect everyone who visits or lives near the beach.

A parking ordinance now in effect means anyone who parks in a beach access spot from 31st Avenue North to 82nd Avenue North, also known as the Golden Mile, will have to pay $2 an hour “or $10 a day.” Parking in the beachfront lots will remain free for handicapped drivers and disabled veterans.

Parking used to be free, but according to thestate.com, the new parking fees were put into place because beach-goers parked on both sides of Ocean Boulevard, which officials say created problems for traffic and pedestrian safety.

Fines will be given to anyone who violates the new rules and some cars could even be towed. To make the process easier, drivers can pay the parking cost on their cell phones through the Parkmobile system.

Another option for those visiting the Grand Strand is to buy a $30 week-long parking pass from Lanier Parking. That pass allows you to park at the Pavilion Parking Garage near the Skywheel.

It’s not just the tourists who are being affected by the new parking rules, though. Residents are finding themselves in the crosshairs. Those who live along Ocean Boulevard will be allowed to park on those roads if they have a parking decal. Residents’ guests will also need to have a guest placard hanging in their cars in order to park in the area for free.

Living in a beach community, some residents use golf carts to get around. The City of Myrtle Beach also took notice of that and made several changes to the Code of City Ordinances, so now residents will have to get their golf carts registered.

Not everyone is happy with the new rules. Efforts are underway to stop the parking ordinance in its tracks.

Make Myrtle Beach, Free, Clean and Safe is an advocacy group that is working to convince city officials to reduce the cost of parking in the Golden Mile. According to the group’s Facebook page, it is encouraging residents to go to the city council meetings and speak during the public forum.

Those against the ordinance are also going online to obtain support. A petition has been started through Change.org.

Another controversy over the fees started to brew when officials announced the parking fees will be used for beach renourishment. Horry County officials questioned whether that violated the city’s contract with the US Army Corps of Engineers that prohibits taxpayer dollars from being spent on sand renourishment projects.

Sean McBride with The US Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston district, said that the government reviewed the parking rules and determined they do not violate the agreement in place for beach nourishment.

The parking fees remain in effect until October 31st.