New rules could come to Ocean Boulevard - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

New rules could come to Ocean Boulevard

Panhandlers or people lying on the ground could make you avoid an area. (Source: WMBF News) Panhandlers or people lying on the ground could make you avoid an area. (Source: WMBF News)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Panhandlers or people lying on the ground could make you avoid an area.

It's something the City of Myrtle Beach is looking to prevent along Ocean Boulevard. Myrtle Beach City Council decided Tuesday to go back to the drawing board when it comes to the loitering ordinance WMBF News first told you about a couple of weeks ago.

They made some changes to the plan discussed at the latest council meeting. The City of Myrtle Beach currently has three prohibitions against loitering - harmful intent, drug dealing and prostitution.

Now, there's talk about adding a fourth section that says you can't loiter to the extent that you're blocking the sidewalk or public access way.

At the next city council meeting, members plan to discuss banning people from sitting or lying down on a public sidewalk. This means on a blanket, chair, stool or any other object placed on the sidewalk in the city.

Right now, there's also a ban against begging and panhandling in protective zones, which include part of Ocean Boulevard, the boardwalk, beach and parking lots. Now, the city is considering expanding this effort city-wide.

"We are addressing complaints that have come to us and city council members from the public, particularly in the panhandling one. People do not feel safe if they're approached by a panhandler, if you're out in public and don't feel safe, that's a problem," Myrtle Beach Spokesman Mark Kruea said.

It would be a misdemeanor and a $500 fine or 30 days in jail for each of these offenses if a second reading passes and it becomes law. However, panhandling or begging does not extend to lawful commercial solicitation.

Since the shooting on Father’s Day weekend, the city has seen a few safety changes on the boulevard. City leaders said changes to ordinances can come from all sorts of places, for example, the police department or public complaints. That's why city leaders stress these potential ordinance changes are not specifically in response to that shooting.

The city is doing a number of things to improve public safety on Ocean Boulevard and other areas throughout the city. Looking at changes to ordinances, increasing police presence, message boards and signage, and potentially looking to add sidewalk handrails.

One of the efforts is adding more street lights. In a Facebook post, the city compared lighting that you're used to seeing versus new brighter LED lights being installed on Ocean Boulevard and second row streets.

City leaders are also working with businesses on their code enforcement to make sure they're keeping up their property as well. Kruea said these ordinances are about one in a dozen to make sure locals and tourists are safe.

"We have so many visitors who come down and enjoy Ocean Boulevard, the boardwalk and all the public places that exist in Myrtle Beach that we want to make sure the public has a sense of safety when they're out and about," Kruea said.

City Council will vote on the ordinances at the meeting at 2 p.m. at the Ted C. Collins Law Enforcement Center on North Oak Street.

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