MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The beach tent ban was passed in the city of Myrtle Beach on Tuesday, March 25. Many people are upset with the ban, but we did find out the reasons behind it. The main argument in many of the counties on board with the ban is public safety.
The city of North Myrtle Beach passed their beach tent ban about a month ago. Chief of Police Phillip Webster says that one tent was never the issue. He says beach tents have become popular and when together, the tents form a barricade.
"It's a whole lot more of an ordeal than simply removing an umbrella," Webster said. "You can get an umbrella out of the way pretty easily, but to move tents, like I said, some of them were tied together and you could just imagine trying to get through that mess... that maze!"
Webster said it is important for lifeguards to see their lines, and emergency personnel need to be able to get to people that are injured. Horry County Spokesperson Lisa Bourcier explains there were over 3,800 tent issues last summer, each of those issues lasting about 15 minutes each for officers to get the situation under control. She says officers have other duties they must be dealing with, and the tents are also a visual issue.
"If you stand up and look through the tents you're not able to see beyond the second row of all the tents," Bourcier said. "We had more children being lost because parents were not able to see their children down the beach."
People that live in the area say they understand the safety concerns, but are worried for the future effects. They don't want to see tourists ruling out Myrtle Beach because of the ban. However, Bourcier wants to remind people that this is not an issue that was going away any time soon, no matter how many different regulations there were. She says there were regulations that stated how far apart beach tents needed to be in order for public safety crews to get by, but it just was not working.
"It was a re-education process every week with new visitors that come to this area for that so it was pretty much a non-stop issue," Bourcier added.
Myrtle Beach Spokesperson Mark Kruea says that none of the local governments are thrilled about this decision, but the local governments were in a difficult position of having to balance safety and the enjoyment of one and the enjoyment of many.