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.

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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.

Free parking advocates take a stand against Myrtle Beach regulations

(Location: Myrtle Beach Access 47th Ave. North. Photo Courtesy: Sharon Tutrone)

 

It’s David versus Goliath when it comes to free parking in Myrtle Beach.

“I call it a parasitic relationship. They want our money but they don’t want us,” 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 Myrtle Beach city officials implemented parking regulations along the Golden Mile, which stretches from 31st Avenue North to 82nd Avenue North.

Parking fees are in place 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.

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Location: Myrtle Beach        Access 47th Ave. North    Photo Courtesy: Sharon Tutrone

Mark Kruea, a public information officer for the City of Myrtle Beach, said “As non-residents, they live in the unincorporated part of Horry County and do not pay city property. Living in an incorporated municipality comes with both taxes and benefits.”

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

The fees went into effect last July. Drivers can face fines and could have their car towed if they violate the new rules. To make the parking process easy, drivers can pay the parking cost on their cell phones through the Parkmobile system.

County residents protested the move, saying they should not have to pay to park along the Golden Mile.

“We want fair access to the beach and we want the city to back down from making the Golden Mile a private beach,” Malzone said.

Kruea responded by saying “Parking is a commodity, and payment for parking is essentially a user fee. You’re using the space, so you pay to park there. Non-residents still can go to the beach in the Golden Mile, if they so choose. All they have to do is pay to park there.”

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Location: Myrtle Beach Access 47th Ave. North Photo Courtesy: Sharon Tutrone  

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.

“We spend money all year long; this city can’t survive without us in November, December, January, and February,” Malzone said.  “We believe that we should have a non-resident decal, which will allow us to park at those beach access lots and will give us access to 400 spots that we don’t have now.”

At a recent City Council meeting, Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes said he must think about those living in the city of Myrtle Beach.

The mayor added that he doesn’t see any change in the rules for non-resident parking passes. But he says it will be up to the council to decide whether some revisions should be made.

“The city has put a wall up and started an “us versus them.” If you look at the sheer numbers, there are 28,000 people in the city… 210,000 other ones in the county. So, 28,000 people have gone to war with 210,000 over 400 parking spots,” Malzone said.

The parking ordinance remains in effect until October 31st.

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For a map of where the parking fees are in effect, click here 

Courtesy: http://www.cityofmyrtlebeach.com/boulevardparking.html
Infographic created by: Sharon Tutrone
Software used: Animaps 
http://www.animaps.com/edit.html