SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Another city in the Grand Strand is trying to raise its rates for non-resident beach parking. Myrtle Beach has received a lot of backlash from county residents for raising beach parking fees last year, and now it looks like Surfside Beach is following in their footsteps.
"We didn't want to. It's the last thing we want to do...is higher the cost for anybody to come park here. But, unfortunately, there are costs. Inflation has gone up, and with this money we replaced the end caps, boardwalks and stuff...walk overs...and with that comes costs...and unfortunately, we had to share the cost this time," Surfside Beach Town Council member Tim Courtney said. He's also parking liaison for council.
"We had no objections from it from the public, so we moved forward with it in January," Courtney said.
The ordinance to increase the non-resident decal price from $100 to $200 was first discussed at the end of last year in December, Courtney said. The price hike was suggested to help accommodate more parking for Surfside Beach residents and visitors, he continued.
In addition to the doubled non-resident decal price, the ordinance also includes prohibiting cars with a non-resident decal from parking in the pier parking lot, establish that non-residents be issued a decal with a yellow center and issue thirty day employee parking decals for pier area businesses. Part two of the ordinance recommends to determine whether the electric charging station should be kept. According to the Surfside Beach Town Council "decision paper," the charging station is used by three residents and is out of date.
Mayor pro tempore Ron Ott said the 50 cent parking lots will remain, and parking is free after 7 p.m.
Courtney said Myrtle Beach's parking changes haven't influenced Surfside Beach's decision to up their non-resident parking decal prices. Parking meter costs increased 25 cents last year, so this is the latest of a string of parking changes in recent years. Courtney said inflation and general costs of beach upkeep are forcing council to look for extra money, and parking revenue supports beach maintenance.
Surfside Beach residents WMBF News spoke with said they think a 100 percent increase in non-resident decals is too much.
"The people that live on the other side of 17 should have first dibs to be able get it for $100...and then maybe make that until a certain date, and then offer to people outside the area for the $200. So, that might be an option also. But right now I feel that charging $200 is a bit excessive. I mean, you can come to the beach lots of times and not even reach that amount," Surfside Beach resident, Linda Pupa, said.
Courtney describes the reasoning to double, instead of slowly increase the price each year. "It made no sense to come back next year and raise it up another $25 and continue going on. We want to make sure that we had enough revenue to bring in to fix what needed to be fixed and make it look presentable for this year," he said.
The increase will be voted on for the second time this Tuesday at town council's meeting. If approved, it will go into effect this year.