MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The mayor of Myrtle Beach and the chairman of the Horry County Council are working together to potentially provide beach parking options to Horry County residents.
Chairman Mark Lazarus spoke about the long-standing parking issue at the regular county council meeting Tuesday night. He said he proposed several ideas last year, including a sticker program to possibly allow residents of unincorporated Horry County to be able to park at metered spaces and in the Golden Mile area.
Bethune said that she has been discussing beach parking for county residents with Lazarus, and they met Tuesday about the issue. She said it was a good meeting with some options and ideas shared, which is a start. They also mutually agreed to meet again soon to continue their discussions.
Lazarus said at Tuesday's council meeting that he plans to propose at the next Coastal Alliance meeting a county-wide parking committee that would have the authority to put together and look at proposals into jointly purchasing parking areas for the future.
"What we're tying to do is come up with a compromise because we look at these folks as they're not only citizens of Horry County but also customers 365 days a year," said Lazarus.
Lazarus said the issue doesn't "need a Band-aid fix, we need an overall fix that will carry us into the future," because the county is growing.
More people are going to be here that want to go to the beach, Lazarus said, so this is going to be a huge issue moving forward.
"Our constituents are living in the unincorporated areas of Horry County and that could be different from what the constituents in the city limits of Myrtle Beach want or are requesting also," said Lazarus.
Lazarus believes the council and others will be able to come up with some type of result sooner rather than later.
"People in this county, we spend money at stores, at restaurants," said Horry County resident Rich Malzone.
Malzone lives in an unincorporated area and said he's not asking for free parking; he just wants a fair policy.
"We need them and they need us," he said. "Right now, when we decide to go out to eat, we say, 'Do we want to pay the extra TDF tax? Do we want to pay for parking?' The answer is usually no and we go somewhere else."
Ward Shepherd lives within the Myrtle Beach city limits. He said parking is already limited as it is.
"I believe that the city residents already pay a price from all the tourists and all the people that come in from outside the area, Aynor and Conway and different areas. I feel like it would be really kind of detrimental to the city residents," said Shepherd.
"We might be willing to pay a nominal fee for a decal that will allow us to park at any meter in the city," said Malzone.
"We have options that need to be further researched and discussed," Bethune said to reporter Marissa Tansino via text message. "The worse thing we could do is put ideas out too soon that have not been decided on and people get upset if they don't happen. We are working closely together to come to a fair and reasonable solution that benefits our neighbors in the County."
Bethune said finding a solution will be a difficult task, as the city already has a shortage of parking that will continue to be a major issue as it continues to grow.