NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF)- North Myrtle Beach city council members toured short-term rentals on Wednesday as problems with the rentals continue throughout the city.
Large crowds of tourist, overflowing parking and increase noise in neighborhoods were all issues council members discussed during Wednesday’s workshop.
Airbnb rentals throughout North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach have increased by nearly 2,500 in the past three years, according to Airdna, a company that analyzes Airbnb data. Airbnb is just one of many rental sites advertising homes throughout the area.
Managing short-term rentals, especially in residential areas, is an increasing challenge facing cities across the nation.
A previous WMBF Investigation uncovered dozens of illegal short-term rentals throughout Horry County. Months later, cities are still coping with unlicensed business and other issues associated with the rentals.
This year in North Myrtle Beach rental companies will self-regulate themselves this season.
Rental owners will set maximum occupant and parking limits for properties and will oversee noise complaints.
The city is hoping this will help decrease the load placed on public safety employees.
“We don’t have the staff for our public safety department to be out just writing tickets and having these people move their cars if they are parked on sidewalks and in other people’s yards and place, they aren’t supposed to,” councilwoman Nicole Fontana said. “I think this is a good step for us going forward and I think we will get some good results.”
Fontana said it is an education process and that the management companies have already started posting the new information on their sites.
This year will be a trial for the city and companies. Multiple council members are hoping this method works because they do not want to add additional government oversight.
“We don’t want to be the parking police, we don’t want to be the occupancy police. Now, if there is a party and things get out of control, we need to have tools to deal with that, which we for the most part have,” councilman Fred Coyne said.
City manager Mike Mahaney said the North Myrtle Beach received five calls just this week about rentals in Pinewood Acres.
Wednesday’s tour allowed officials to get a realistic understanding of the rental business before they make long-term decisions.
“Trying to visualize everyone in there, it’s kind of hard to do that, but being able to take the tour today I think that’s helpful for us,” Fontana.
Coyne said in the last few years people have taken down older and smaller homes and rebuilt bigger houses, which has added to the problems.
North Myrtle Beach is working with a company to find unlicensed properties and continues to explore potential solutions to the ongoing problem.
“We’re monitoring what Charleston is doing, what Mt. Pleasant is doing, we’ve got people going down there to look at their programs. We’re doing as much as we can to stay ahead of it,” Mahaney said.
Parking was a top concern discussed Wednesday by city officials and property managers.
In October, the city passed an ordinance to clearly define “short-term rentals” and “sleeping areas” in an effort to solve parking issues. The ordinance came after officials noticed an uptick in rentals increasing the number of occupants by putting sofas in rooms not designated as bedrooms.
“If we get 15 cars in a place that has four parking, they are overflowing into the streets and it just becomes a big challenge to deal with,” Coyne said.
The city has also hired a parking consultant to explore future solutions for parking throughout the city.
Mahaney anticipates in the future full-time residents will get one parking pass per house and everyone else will have to pay to park by the beach.
“I just don’t see any way around it when you have 10,000 houses being built right outside North Myrtle Beach that we all know will come right down here and look for a place to park,” Mahaney said.
Ultimately, it will be up to city council to decide.
The city is still making decision regarding parking. On February 8th, individuals are able to bring their parking concerns and issues to city hall when the city’s parking consultant will be on hand.
“It’s all about trying to find some balance,” Coyne said.