Myrtle Beach committee considers ban on tents at the beach

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A popular tool many beach-goers use to keep cool under the sun could soon be banned in Myrtle Beach.

Big pop-up tents seem to be causing trouble for some beach service providers who say they take up too much space and have become a safety issue.

Meghan Kelly with Lack's Beach Service in Myrtle Beach says she's noticed a lot more tents set up on the san these days, with "thirty, 40, 50 tents all lined up in a row."

Myrtle Beach visitor Steve Bolden says the heat is brutal and he needs the shade. "We don't want to come here and burn up. So we always bring our pop up tent," says Bolden.

Kelly says beach erosion has left parts of the Grand Strand with less beach to work with, especially in the southern portion of the city.

"I've seen the problem slowly get worse and worse and worse, and as we lose the beach, that's why it's such an issue," she adds.

Lack's Beach Service, along with other operators in the city, are calling attention to the cramped space. If there's a problem in the water, the tents make it harder for emergency responders to reach the shore.

"In an emergency, you might need to get a vehicle or vehicles to the water's edge, and you'll have to navigate around the tents to get there, and that adds time," explains Mark Kruea, spokesman for the City of Myrtle Beach. Kruea says there are tent rules in place. They must be set up behind the umbrella line and have to be 10 feet apart from each other.

Kelly explains many people don't follow the rules, and it becomes another safety issue when lifeguards spend time enforcing it.

"They have to walk behind the umbrella line, which is a huge safety concern because they have to be in front of the umbrella line with their eyes on the water," she says.

On Wednesday afternoon, the city's Beach Advisory Committee heard the concerns of several beach service companies. The committee made a recommendation to the city to place a ban on tents.

Vacationers like Bolden are against a ban on tents, and says he won't go to the beach without one.

"It would deter us from coming to this area," adds Bolden.

The ban would run between May 1 through Labor Day. It will be up for discussion during the next City Council meeting on July 9.

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