Coastal Alliance talks parking authority, plastic bag ban

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The Coastal Alliance team, made up of leaders from surrounding communities, met Tuesday to discuss a parking authority and plastic bag bans.

Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus has talked about putting together a parking authority, which would help plan and generate ideas to create more parking near the beaches for county residents.

"Sit down and get the maps out," said Lazarus, "Start planning, you know, where would good parking areas be? How can we come up with funding?"

He said the next steps will be to get planning staff from each area together to generate ideas toward providing more parking at the beach.

Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune, North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley and Surfside Beach Mayor Bob Childs were just some of the other leaders at the meeting who weighed in on the idea.

"Having a parking authority takes it off those of us who really don't know. We have other things we need to be dealing with and don't know what's available and what isn't," said Bethune.

Bethune said limited parking is only going to continue moving forward, and she likes the idea of implementing a parking authority as an active and long-term solution.

"Named the second fastest growing metro area in the United States, that means more and more people are coming here and they're certainly not moving into the city limits or on the beach. They're moving west of the waterway, a lot of them," said Lazarus.

Lazarus said going back and researching other communities and the types of facilities they provide will help create a better solution than just offering a short-term fix.

They're still in the early stages of planning, but Lazarus said soon they will set a schedule for everyone to come back and present some ideas.

Also talked about at the meeting was banning plastic bags on Grand Strand beaches. First, local leaders want to educate.

Lazarus said the real problem that most officials are seeing is on the beach, but the challenge is enforcing a ban.

Rather than putting the problem on the backs of police or code enforcement officers right off the bat, especially for such a large area, Lazarus said the first step is taking a look at the beaches and educating people on why they should cut back.

"This isn't about trying to arrest people for having a plastic bag. This is all about educating people and I think it will have to come from newsletters, from people within the community, from people who are on the beach patrol, our beach patrol," said Hatley.

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