MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A group of people plan to spend time together on the beach along Myrtle Beach's Golden Mile on Saturday, which will be the last time for some until parking becomes free again in November.
"We are good neighbors and we're going to prove that Saturday," said local resident Rich Malzone.
Malzone said he understands why people who live along the Golden Mile don't want people parking on their lawns. It ultimately prompted the Myrtle Beach City Council to create more parking restrictions in the area last year.
"That seems to be something that could've been solved with enforcement, not this sledgehammer," Malzone said, adding the beach along the Golden Mile is why he moved to Horry County.
However, since the parking restrictions went into effect last July, including paid parking for the street end lots, Malzone said he visits other beaches, taking his money with him.
"I'm not going to go to North Myrtle Beach, go for a walk and drive down here to go to dinner," he said. "I go to dinner in North Myrtle Beach."
Malzone thinks the cost to pay to park - $2 an hour, $10 a day - is "ridiculous." However, he said he is willing to compromise and pay $100 for a parking pass that would allow him to park in any of the paid lots.
"I think if this city council had come to us with a compromise that said pay $100 and you get to park in all of the paid spots in the city, we wouldn't be standing here now," he said.
The $100 non-resident parking pass is only valid for lots from 6th Avenue South to 21st Avenue North and 69th to 77th avenues north.
"The goal is to reduce the amount of excess parking that's occurring in the residential areas, not just on the Golden Mile, but also the residential areas on the South End," city spokesperson Mark Kruea said. "So if you open up that non-resident decal to the whole city, you've defeated the purpose of limiting that excess parking in the residential area."
The $100 non-resident parking pass includes more lots this year than it did last year, when it only allowed people to park in two lots in the downtown area, Kruea said.
Shifting parking from the residential to the commercial parts of the city was a reason behind 2016's parking regulation changes.
"The neighbors in this area are very pleased with the results and city council is too," Kruea said.
City residents pay property taxes on their vehicles, so Kruea said that is why they receive free parking decals, adding that the taxes on a $21,000 car are $100.
He said the $100 parking pass covers the user fee for the parking spaces for people who don't pay those taxes.
"The $100 parking placard really is a good deal," Kruea said. "We offer a seven consecutive day parking pass for $30. You get eight months of parking for $100, or seven days for 30 bucks."
Kruea stressed that those who live within the city limits pay city property taxes.
"There are extra responsibilities and benefits to being inside the city and city council's goal is to serve its residents first and that is certainly what they've done with the residential parking in these areas," he said.
However, Malzone said they're also part of the community.
"We're good neighbors. We're your best customers," he said. "We just want to be treated with respect and this us versus them is something the city started. We can finish it, but they started it."
People from the group Make Myrtle Beaches Free, Clean and Safe are planning to meet on the beach for a "Lying on the Beach" picnic at 11 a.m. Saturday along 38th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach to enjoy the last weekend of free parking before the end of the year. Anyone is welcome.
Make Myrtle Beaches Free, Clean and Safe, which has more than 3,600 members, was created last year after the city changed parking regulations along the Golden Mile.
"We understand that there are some issues. The area is growing, so there has to be some parking restrictions," Malzone said. "You cannot turn this beach into a private beach because a few hundred people want it. We're a community. We're part of this community."
Kruea said city officials are aware of the concerns of those who live outside the city limits, and that parking is available.
"There's 60 miles of beach here that you can go to," he said. "You can get one of the non-resident decals and park in the more commercial areas or you can pay to park in that high-demand Golden Mile area if that's really where you want to go to the beach."
Kruea said the city is addressing complaints about the paid parking system along the Golden Mile, which required making a phone call or downloading an app, so the city will be installing pay stations in those lots.