City council members vote to change parking along North Ocean Boulevard

City council members vote to change parking along North Ocean Boulevard

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Among all topics that come across the desks of Myrtle Beach City Council members and city staff, they said parking is one of the most difficult.

"There's no perfect solution to this issue because there are so many pieces that affect each other," said City Manager John Pedersen.

The city started looking at parking along North Ocean Boulevard between 31st and 82nd avenues north last fall after Golden Mile residents complained of safety concerns while pulling in and out of their neighborhoods.

After public hearings on the issue, Pedersen proposed a possible solution to council Tuesday: get rid of Ocean Boulevard parking altogether; make Ocean Boulevard three lanes to allow for safe left-hand turns; start charging people for parking in the street-end lots next to the beach; and allow people living along the avenues to vote to only let people who live in Myrtle Beach and have city parking decals to park on their specific street.

Several council members were in favor of this proposal.

"We're not spending a lot of money to implement this and if problems occur, we can revisit these situations," said Councilwoman Mary Jeffcoat.

However, Golden Mile residents showed up to talk about how they think this will push more cars from Ocean Boulevard and street-end lots into their neighborhoods.

"You're not going to pull up on something that I manicure and take care of and plant," said Fred Bellamy. "I know it's your property, but I'm beautifying."

Bellamy said he's also afraid for the safety of the people living in the Golden Mile.

"They pull up there, they watch your house, (and) then they're in there and out of there before you know it," he said.

Council members reminded the residents that anyone can park on their streets under current policy. The proposed ordinance would at least limit those people to Myrtle Beach residents with city parking decals.

However, Councilman Wayne Gray proposed taking the limitations a step further by creating a residential parking plan and only allowing residents and their guests to park on the avenues. Two other council members agreed with him.

"There are avenues you don't see any parking in right now," Councilman Mike Lowder said. "I'm totally 100 percent concerned that when you do eliminate parking on the boulevard, there will be folks that will go park in the avenues."

Council members spent hours debating the topic with each other and with residents during the workshop and meeting Tuesday.

They ended up amending the ordinance to allow parking for people with city decals along the east side of Ocean Boulevard, which would remain a four-lane road. That ordinance would still include charging non-city residents to park in street-end lots.

The amended ordinance passed four to three, with Gray, Lowder and Philip Render voting against it.

It will need to pass one more reading.

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