MB city council proposes changes to taxi cab and parking ordinances

MB city council proposes changes to taxi cab and parking ordinances

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - There is proposed regulation for the taxi cab services in Myrtle Beach.

Myrtle Beach City Council members also made changes to a new parking ordinance and put the finishing touches on the fiscal year budget at Tuesday's council workshop.

The council will consider eliminating inspection and renewal fees for taxi cab services. It was a recommendation made by Councilman Wayne Gra, during Tuesday's workshop.

Jim Urban, with the Myrtle Beach Taxi Cab Association, spoke before council and ask the body to consider reducing the annual renewal fees listed in the taxi cab ordinance.

Urban told council that drivers are competing with Uber Services, which are subject to no regulations.

Myrtle Beach police currently conduct taxicab inspections, but Myrtle Beach City Manager John Pedersen said if officers could be relieved of the inspection services it would reduce costs for the city and deploy officers to work other areas where needed.

"Council recommended that we take an affidavit from a mechanic or affidavit from someone else that is in the private sector to certify that the taxi cab is working properly and that is something that we are very seriously considering." Pedersen said.

Council plans to allow cab drivers to advertise businesses on their vehicles.

"Right now cabs can't advertise anything other than their own business on their vehicles," Pedersen said.

The ordinance would allow drivers to put professionally manufactured signage on the car rooftops.

Council members, including Mayor John Rhodes, said he would like to see examples of what the signage would look like before the council grants its final approval.

Urban said the industry would be willing to help regulate the ordinance and provide samples for council.

In other business, council members are finalizing the city's  2016-2017 fiscal year budget. The members approved 4.25 percent raise for all regular municipal employees that excludes appointed officials.

There is also funding for a merit program to include performance-based raises for city employees.

However, council did approve for a three mil tax increase, but the city does have a plan to soften that blow.

"Council also made sure that increase would not affect the property taxes paid by city residents, so they increased the discounted amount to cover the impact of that three mil. So there's no net increase for most of our residents," Pedersen said.

Along with the city's 2016-2017 budget, council rolled out the a five-year capital improvement plan. It highlights nine different initiatives that specifically help push the city forward.

The initiatives include the following:

  • Crime Initiative: Includes efforts to train and retain qualified officers and improve  community relations, deploy body cams, and more surveillance cameras.
  • Neighborhood Initiative:  Deals with quality of life issues in center city neighborhoods, including community watch, and more aggressive code enforcement.
  • Product Development: Position the community to enhance its competitive advantage vs. other resort cities.
  • Downtown Redevelopment Initiative: Includes improvement to Chapin Park, clean up effort and more aggressive code enforcement.
  • Organization Development Initiative: Identify and equip the next generation of team members to be highly qualified candidates for leadership positions as senior staff members retire.
  • Sports Tourism Initiative: Increase direct visitors spending and economic impact, and enhance sports tourism programs.
  • Communications: Increase communications through multiple modes of media communication.
  • Business Support: Promote and support local business through symposiums, "How To" workshops and local vendor preferences.

After a lot of heated backlash, the changes to Ocean Boulevard parking along the Golden Mile of Myrtle Beach will go into effect July 1.

However, there are some changes to the area around North Ocean Boulevard and 31st to 82n avenues north. 

During the workshop, council decided to change the number of guest placards that would be issued to primary residents.  

The first ordinance drafted said six guests placards would be issued, but the final number is now four. 

"Council just wanted to make sure there weren't too many parking in the area," said Pedersen. 

Tuesday afternoon crews were along the Golden Mile putting up signs that reflect the upcoming changes. Those who would like access to the beach will have to pay to park on the street end lots. Only Myrtle Beach residents with a city decal will be exempt from the fees. 

Council also agreed it was only fair to allow those property owners that maintain secondary homes to be granted guest placards as well.  After hearing concerns from the public about golf carts parking, council agreed to change that policy as well. 

"There are a number of property owners, not residents, in that area that own golf carts, and they wanted to be able to park the golf carts in the streets as they had done so in the past," Pedersen said. "After hearing those concerns, council decided that was appropriate too and (that) they change."

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