UPDATE – August 6, 2020 – The group says that they have been granted an Emergency Hearing, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday.
ORIGINAL – August 4, 2020
ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCBD) – Members of the Facebook Group “Charleston Area Public Beach Access and Parking Group” are taking legal action against the Isle of Palms Town Council for implementing limitations on public parking.
The litigation is premised on the assumption that the Isle of Palms’ decision to limit public parking in order to reduce island capacity and slow the spread of COVID-19 is an improper means:
“No one wishes to interfere with or subvert the City’s efforts to control the spread of a serious, highly contagious infection, but there are simpler, more effective, narrowly tailored programs for promoting this goal.”
A complaint was filed Tuesday in the Charleston County Court of Common Pleas by Thomas Goldstein, the group’s legal counsel. Legal fees are being funded via a GoFundMe account set up by the group. They say that “any monies not needed for the legal proceedings will be donated to the Surfrider Foundation and SC Aquarium.”
Goldstein previously sent an initial Demand Letter to the Isle of Palms on behalf of the group, requesting that the City eliminate the bans on parking and avoid legal proceedings:
“I hope that we can reason together and arrive at a solution that is mutually agreeable, one that does not put my client to the expense and inconvenience of litigation to comel the City to conform to the law. ”
The Isle of Palms was given until lunchtime on Monday to respond; when they did not respond, the motion was filed for a Preliminary injunction.
To qualify for a preliminary injunction under SC law, “a plaintiff must show three things: irreparable harm, a likelihood of success on the merits, and the absence of an adequate remedy at law.”
Goldstein argued that “the undisputed evidence demonstrates that the City has unlawfully blocked access to public property without authority and made the decision in an unlawfully conducted emergency City Council meeting without notice or public participation.”
The group contends that “while this initial demand is addressed to the IOP Town Council, the results of our Preliminary Injunction will compel the remainder of the beaches to follow the law.”
The Isle of Palms and Folly Beach recently imposed parking restrictions to limit island capacity, following local spikes in COVID-19 cases. Sullivan’s Island has maintained even stricter measures, prohibiting beach chairs, umbrellas, and coolers on the beaches.