Governor McMaster signs beach parking bill

Lowcountry Beaches

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Governor Henry McMaster on Monday signed legislation known as the beach parking bill into law.

The bill prohibits “a municipality from altering, or restricting the use of any state highway facility or right of way without the prior approval of the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT).”

It also requires “municipalities eligible to receive state beach renourishment funds” to have a free parking option on state highways. However, revenue generated from paid parking can be used to “offset the corresponding costs associated with maintaining public beach parking, providing traffic control and enforcement, and removing litter from public beaches.”

McMaster sent a statement to SC Senator Larry Grooms, who sponsored the bill. He acknowledged the controversy brought about by “certain provisions” of the bill, noting that it stemmed from access restrictions imposed by beach communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent backlash of non-beach residents who were angry about the limited access.

Ultimately, McMaster said, “the underlying issue is one of quality of life, not only for those South Carolinians who wish to access their shared, taxpayer-supported public beaches via state-maintained roads, but also for those coastal residents who wish to ensure reasonable and reliable access to their private homes and communities, while simultaneously preserving public safety.”

However, McMaster is “confident that this legislation will allow SCDOT to accommodate the legitimate concerns of all involved and work cooperatively to achieve a solution that will address the underlying issues and avoid unnecessary controversy.”

Click here to read McMaster’s full statement.

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