Myrtle Beach to vote on stricter panhandling law

City of Myrtle Beach to crack down on panhandling

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach city leaders will vote Tuesday whether or not to pass a law that would crack down on panhandlers in a specific section of the city.

Right now panhandling is allowed in the city limits of Myrtle Beach, if it's not happening in an aggressive way. If the ordinance passes on Tuesday night, panhandling will be illegal altogether in downtown Myrtle Beach.

"We've seen it quite a bit and we've been here four days," Tourist Sarah Hays said.

The proposed ordinance to ban panhandling states solicitation in densely populated areas like downtown create an atmosphere where people feel uncertain and unsafe as they move around.

"It's hard to say no to people especially when they look like they need something and when you're here with your family, you don't want to have to deal with those kind of people," Hays said.

The city of Myrtle Beach defines panhandling as a form or either aggressive or non aggressive solicitation where a person requests an immediate donation of money or other type of gratuity from another person without giving anything of value, or little value, in return.

"We certainly have areas in the city where you can solicit where you can ask someone for money but we're saying that this downtown area east of kings highway from 13th avenue south to 21st avenue north is special," Myrtle Beach Spokesperson Mark Kruea said.

The beach, beach access parking lots and parks along the beach will also outlaw any form of solicitation.

"Certainly we could hear a complaint from the public and respond to that. Our police officers could also see improper solicitations occur and take action based on that too."

Panhandling in a restricted area is a misdemeanor punishable of up to 30 days in jail and or up to a $500 fine.

"I myself have been homeless before in many places, many big cities and I didn't have much money and sometimes when you don't have money you gotta ask somebody," Myrtle Beach Resident Austin Mack said.

Kruea said the goal of the ordinance is to protect the public and do whatever possible to make sure everyone feels safe.

Myrtle Beach City Council will vote on the 2nd and final reading of the ordinance at Tuesday's council meeting. If it passes, the ordinance will take effect immediately.

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