MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Parking meter season begins in Myrtle Beach on Sunday. So if you don't want to get a parking ticket, you'll need to start carrying quarters with you again.
Safety is one of the main reasons paid parking will always return. City spokesperson Mark Kruea says the meters control crowds, allow more customers to get into the stores, and help fund downtown improvements.
"I don't think anybody likes to pay a parking meter. But the meters do good things for the community," says Kruea. The Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corporation uses the funds for maintenance of the downtown area, like along the Boardwalk and Ocean Boulevard. The money is also used for new construction and streetscape projects around town. Kruea says the Mister Joe White Avenue entry and the 3rd Avenue North entry into downtown are good examples.
Also, more of the funds go straight to paying for and managing parking. So far the city hasn't added any new parking meters or parking spots this year. Kruea says the city will try to add some more parking spaces this year, like they try for every year. There is a future long-term goal of adding a parking garage, but that plan is still in its infancy brainstorming stages. The city spent a lot of effort and time updating their technology last year with the credit card meters. Those were a big hit, but using cash is still the most popular way to pay.
Last year was the first year the city extended the parking meter season through October. That will be the case again this year, and for every year after. Total collections for last year were a little more than $1.2 million.
"Managing parking keeps people moving and flowing," says Lauren Clever, the executive assistant for the Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corporation. "You know, if you want a parking space here, you can usually find something. So, it just, rather than people just staying in one place all day long, it provides an opportunity for people to move around. And you know, if you want to be close to the beach or whatever it may be, a parking management system has that capability of doing so."
There will be a grace period for the first couple of days -- if you don't pay, you'll get a warning. But after that, you'll start getting ticketed if you don't feed the meter. Parking will be enforced from 9:00 a.m. to midnight.
Myrtle Beach city residents can get a special free parking pass. The car must be registered within city limits and you must pay your city property taxes on the car. Kruea says they provide this for city residents because by paying those property taxes, you're already contributing to the city's efforts to maintain parking. The city sends out notices to give you the decals, which are good for two years. This is a renewal year, so you can expect a notice sometime soon. If they miss you somehow, contact the city and let them know you need a pass.