Myrtle Beach parking meter season ends

Myrtle Beach parking meter season ends
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - If you head down to the boulevard Friday, it's the last time you'll have to take out your quarters and feed the meters; starting Saturday we will finally be able to park in Myrtle Beach, for free.

This is the first year the city extended meter season through October. All because, the month has proven to be booming for business by the boardwalk. In fact, it was those businesses who suggested the extension, to allow "more" people to find parking downtown.

Overall, city leaders say the change went smoothly.  So, you should expect to pay to park through October, every year.

Meters will be deactivated starting tomorrow, then reactivated in the spring.

On the South strand, leaders are actually removing meters. Surfside Beach is taking out more than 100 parking meters and preventing parking on the beach side of Ocean Boulevard. You will only be able to park on the inland side from now on.

The goal is to improve safety for drivers and beach-goers on foot. As for Myrtle Beach, safety is also the reason paid parking will always return.

“Its really a win-win,” said David Sebok with the Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corporation. “Yes we make some money but we manage parking because that's to everyone's benefit.”

Every time you drop a quarter into a parking meter in Myrtle Beach, you're actually improving the look and feel of the beachfront community. The city pulls in hundreds of thousands of dollars every year from those parking meters.

The additional month, this year, will rack in an estimated $61,000. While it will take a few weeks to process the final revenue, total collections for the year should reach around $1.2 million.  

A huge chunk of that money goes to pay to manage parking in the downtown area.  The other funds improve parking, and buy more credit card meters, which are a hit. Leftover money gets pumped back downtown through Streetscape improvements, and things like more public restrooms. The funds can also help promote events like Oktoberfest.  The growth of events like that is the reason why the city extended parking fees.

Nobody likes to pay for parking, but there are meters out there that benefit the city, in a different way.

The yellow and blue meters, at the boardwalk at 8th Ave. North, will catch your eye, and hopefully your change.

They were installed by the local non-profit, New Directions. The money collected will feed the homeless, get them off the streets, and into jobs. The goal is not just to raise money but also awareness.

Kathy Jenkins with New Directions says this will help people stop giving to panhandlers.

Since they only went up in late July, the organization has not been collecting as much money as hoped.

Initially, the organization was trying to get these meters in the airport, an area we see a lot of traffic, but the county denied the request.

New Directions hopes these meters currently standing, will be a jumping off point for more to come.

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