SC Statehouse beach fight: Should towns have free parking?

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WCBD) — The latest round in the longtime fight between people in South Carolina who can afford to live at the beach and people who want to visit is over free beach parking.

A Senate subcommittee Tuesday unanimously approved a bill requiring local governments to get permission from the state before altering or changing any parking on state roads or blocking a road owned by South Carolina.

The beach communities around Charleston restricted free parking and blocked state roads to their islands to visitors because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But they didn’t roll back those restrictions as a day at the beach appeared to be a safe pandemic diversion.

The measure, S.40, by Senator Larry Grooms, provides that municipalities may not establish or alter parking facilities on state highways without prior approval of the DOT. 

It also stipulates that parking along state highways located on barrier islands is free and may only be restricted by SCDOT. 

“We have an immediate problem along with coast with access to parking,” Grooms told the subcommittee. “The beaches belong to everybody, and if you cut off parking, you’re cutting off access to the beach. … We can’t do that, we’re better than that.”

The bill now advances to the full Senate Transportation Committee, which may consider the bill as early as next week.

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