NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Residents may have noticed paid parking stations being installed in beach lots throughout North Myrtle Beach.
Beginning Saturday, visitors have to reach into their pockets to spend a day at the beach if they don’t have a city resident decal.
Parking payment kiosks going up along Ocean Boulevard are a welcome sign of change for many who live in North Myrtle Beach.
“Everybody’s a little concerned with the longer-term aspects of parking in North Myrtle Beach. With the population growth it’s a little scary and concerning, but it’s a step in the right direction," said resident Craig Steves.
It’s one in a series of short-term solutions after years of complaints surrounding dangerous and illegal parking in the median.
“We hope it manages the problem better than we’ve been able to the past," said city spokesman Pat Dowling.
Parking will cost $2 an hour from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Drivers will have to pay by card at the kiosk or through a mobile app. That means no coins or cash.
There will also be parking enforcement ambassadors in each lot for anyone who needs help.
“They will help us bring order to what, over the last two or three years, has been an increasingly chaotic situation,” said Dowling.
Those who live in North Myrtle Beach won't have to dish out any money if they get the free resident parking decal. City officials say roughly 5,000 people have already picked up their decals.
“The decal’s right on the front of the windshield and I got that about three or four weeks ago," said Steves.
While city leaders originally gave the green light for a trial run of a beach shuttle service, that idea’s been tabled for now.
“We didn’t get a lot of interest from people that were necessarily interested in getting on a shuttle, particularly families with younger kids that haul a lot of equipment to the beach," said Dowling.
With paid parking ahead, many hope it’ll be the answer to the city’s parking problems.
“Maybe it’ll deter a little bit of the other traffic, so it’ll be less crazy, a little better managed," said Steves.
The paid parking program will last through October. City officials say they plan to use money from the program to purchase land to create additional parking in the future.