NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The city is looking to change its oceanfront parking this year.
The city put up several signs for the new, mobile payment system it tested along Ocean Boulevard last year. The results seen from 60,325 vehicles is making city leaders look into expanding paid parking.
In the past, people going to the beach have ignored no parking signs in the median along Ocean Boulevard. The city won a lawsuit in 2018 against a group of property owners regarding median parking.
That caused North Myrtle to look at long-term solutions for the hundreds of thousands of tourists there during the summer.
“In the end, we can’t offer a free parking pass to everybody, because then we’ve certainly put ourselves right back where we were three years ago with parking chaos,” said city spokesperson Pat Dowling.
After making about $500,000 in the first five months, the city is looking to expand oceanfront paid parking. City council discussed the proposed changes during a workshop Wednesday.
Full-time city residents, who currently get two free parking decals per household, would be allowed to buy a third for $200.
City property owners who do not live in North Myrtle would get a free decal and a second one for $200 for any golf cart or vehicle. Right now, they can only get one free decal for a golf cart, if it’s registered to their North Myrtle address.
Horry County residents who aren’t the city could also buy a decal for $200.
“That’s what Surfside (Beach) does,” said Dowling. “They find that it works for them and other cites do that as well. We will try that out the first year, $200 a year.”
Only 200 decals would be available for county residents living outside the city. They currently cannot apply for any decals.
The city says it’ll be able to pay off the rest of the $750,000 spent on parking expansions and upgrades later this year. That includes adding kiosks, signs and 200 new parking spaces in 12 expanded lots. There are 46 paid parking locations.
City council is also looking to close a free parking loophole near Ocean Boulevard.
“They’re looking at introducing $2 per hour paid parking on some of the side streets, in order to move people towards the oceanfront parking lots,” Dowling said.
City council will have to officially amend the parking ordinance for any proposed change to go into effect.
Paid parking resumes in the city on March 1.