Myrtle Beach increases code enforcement to improve boulevard safety

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The city of Myrtle Beach is taking another step to help make the downtown look and feel safer.

This time it deals with the environment and things like illegal dumping and trash and debris. City officials approved the hiring of two additional code enforcement officers that work under the city's construction services department. They were approved for hire last summer and are now trained and already on the ground.

It's a collaborative effort with the city's construction services, police department and the fire marshal. Unlike the previous officers, the new ones will not work a traditional work day, but instead in the evenings and on the weekends, when there is the most activity.

In 2017, the two code enforcement officers investigated 579 complaints. Their goal is to be more proactive with additional hands on desk.

Chris Lee, the director of construction services, presented the new plan to the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation at its last meeting. He explained if code violations are found, the owners have two options - either fix the problem within 15 days of being notified and attend a hearing, or the city will do it for them and the property owner must reimburse the costs.

"The better the boulevard looks, the more attractive it will be for the guests that come down," Ray Booth, general manager of Ocean's One in downtown Myrtle Beach, said.

Booth has seen downtown Myrtle Beach evolve over the past 30 years, noting that in the off season, the "bad elements stand out more."

"In the summertime, that element tends to blend in with the crowd and it doesn't look as bad, but the crime doesn't go away," he said. "It's here year round."

Fortunately, Booth said he's noticed an improvement in the amount of crime.

"I've actually seen a decrease since Chief (Amy) Prock's taken over. I think were headed in the right direction. It's a lot less and I think they're on the street more so as long as we keep making strides it'll help us as a hotel, but the tourists who come down should feel safer," he said.

The city is also adding cameras on First Avenue and Flag Street, Third Avenue and Flag Street, and around Seventh and Ninth avenues north.

Booth said more lighting around the areas would help too.

"Obviously the better lit something is, the less crime you see, so hopefully we can add more in the hotels and parking lots," he said. "The more boots on the street and the eyes looking at everything, the better it will be."

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