As county population rises, North Myrtle Beach starts planning for future public parking

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As more homes are being built throughout Horry County, cities like North Myrtle Beach are concerned about the amount of available public parking spaces near the beach.

Currently, the city has 2,000 public parking spaces within walking distance of the beach. Of those, 1,884 are free spaces.

The city has a permanent population of about 15,000 residents, but sees nearly 100,000 people daily during the peak of tourism season starting in June.

As developments continue to pop up throughout the county near Little River, Highway 9 and Highway 57, city leaders worry about those residents dwelling over the waterway and into the city.

Horry County has already approved residential development for that area, which includes over 8,800 single- and multi-family homes.

The city is now asking the county to help with funding for public parking.

"If we're going to have to build parking lots or parking garages sometime down the road, we're going to have to start creating a new revenue stream - and significant one - for those things," said North Myrtle Beach spokesperson Pat Dowling.

He said these are things the city and county are trying to iron out and that were brought up during the Horry Imagine 2040 meeting last week.

North Myrtle Beach officials did recommend several options, which include a one-time assessment fee on new homes in the county or paid public parking.

"Horry County Government is working to address parking concerns and to develop long-term solutions to parking challenges," Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus said in a statement. "We participate in the Coastal Alliance with the leaders of other local municipalities and are in the process of developing a task force of county and municipal planning staff members to address the unique parking needs in our area for both residents and visitors. We are committed to working together with our local partners to come up with solutions that work for everyone."

Nothing is set in stone as these discussions are in the very early stages. However, the city of North Myrtle Beach does see this as a real problem and hopes to address it before thousands of future residents move in.

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