Myrtle Beach City Council discusses parking, sports tourism

Myrtle Beach City Council discusses parking, sports tourism

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The latest change in the overhaul of parking in the Golden Mile area is the restriction of parking along North Ocean Boulevard, which city council members supported after passing the second reading of an ordinance Tuesday afternoon to officially prohibit all parking along Ocean Boulevard north of 31st Avenue North.

"The problems that caused us to take the actions in the beginning seem to pretty much have gone away," Myrtle Beach City Manager John Pedersen said. "So for the most part, the plan has been working. There are pieces of it we continue to talk about every day that we need to tweak here and there."

When the original plan was passed, parking was restricted to the east side of Ocean Boulevard, but Pedersen banned it altogether after the plan first went into effect.

He said the original parking plan gave him the authority to make changes as needed, and in this case, he saw Ocean Boulevard parking wasn't needed.

He said nearly 60 spaces were available on the beach side of the street, but only about five spaces would be used a day, so he decided to eliminate all of the Ocean Boulevard parking to help with traffic flow.

Anyone can still pay to park in the street end lots and city residents can park there or on the avenues for free with a decal.

Pedersen said staff will review the plan after the summer tourist season and make small changes as needed.

Councilman Philip Render asked to hear more in the future about the possibility of making that section of North Ocean Boulevard three lanes.

Although changes in sports tourism fees passed in the budget earlier in the summer, council members heard more about them during a presentation Tuesday.

The city now charges promoters per player rather than per field and the economic benefit rebate is capped at 25 percent.

Pedersen said these changes put Myrtle Beach's prices in line with the sports tourism market.

He said they also provide better balance between promoters and taxpayers who help fund the industry.

Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes voiced his concern with the rate increases potentially pushing sporting events to neighboring cities.

Also, a board member for a local soccer non-profit, Coast FA, told council he paid nothing this year for his events in the end because he can fit several soccer games on one field and he was then able to receive an economic benefit rebate.

However, with the changes, he said he'll pay $16,200 next year after the economic benefit credit.

"For us, for what we do, it's excessive because it's our revenue stream to run our programs," Paul Benik said.

Benik said he understands he should have to pay something for the facilities, but he said the people his soccer events bring in spend thousands of dollars in the city, so he thinks he should be able to qualify for more than a 25 percent economic benefit credit.

Council members also passed the second reading of an ordinance that attempts to clean up businesses in the city. It allows the city to install signs warning business owners to clean their properties if debris or litter is excessive or they will face a fine when the city has to clean it up.

If they do not face that fine, the ordinance allows for the suspension of the business license.

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