Horry County, Surfside Beach seeing different benefits from tent ban
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF)- Horry County is two months into the beach tent ban, and law enforcement say it has been a success, but Surfside Beach does not see themselves adopting the ban, despite its reviews.
The Horry County Police Department patrols the beaches and enforces the tent ban. According to officers, they have written about 1,300 warnings for beach tent violations which may seem high, but the number was double last year at 2,800.
Corporal J.P. Wyatt with Horry County's Beach Division says the beach tent ban has been nothing short of a success and it has made their jobs easier.
"It saves lives. It makes our rescues much quicker to access along with our equipment, such as jet skis, UTV's and any other equipment we deem necessary during a rescue,"Corporal Wyatt said.
Beach tents are not allowed on Garden City Beaches, but just five minutes down the road it's a different story. Lt. Kenneth Hofmann with Surfside Police explains at one point in the beach, even with the difference just a few feet over, beach patrol officers are able to do their job just fine without the ban by being proactive.
"Instead we're down here. We're protectively keeping our beach accesses open, keeping the path alone the dune line clear in case there's an emergency," Hofmann said.
But what happens on city lines? Both units responded to a call on 16th Avenue North last Friday. Horry County's Corporal Wyatt says that was very telling because one side had beach tents and the other did not. It was a clear divide.
"It shows the difference between having beach tents and not having beach tents and the difference is huge," Corporal Wyatt said.
Luckily, not only did it turn out to be a sea turtle someone mistook for a person, but it was also on one of Surfside Beach's emergency access points where, tent or no tent, they keep open. Lt. Hofmann said they have noticed one difference this year: more people.
One family on the beach had two tents up. They were staying at Ocean Lakes Campground where beach tents are not allowed.
"We found out it was tents on this side and we brought tents and set up on this side of the beach. it will definitely determine where we stay next time," Paula Mullis said.
Mullis is from North Carolina. She says they have been coming here for years, but now she will probably stay in Surfside because of the ban.
Corporal Wyatt with Horry County admits it takes a few extra minutes to explain why some can't have a tent up when a tent may be right next to them on the beach in Surfside.
However, with the decrease in warnings, the new-found visibility, and the time they can now spend on other patrols, Wyatt believes the ban is here to stay.
Horry County and Surfside do have different rules on what may seem like the same beach but they have the same mission: keeping people safe. Lt. Hofmann says if they find tents to be an issue in the future they will do what they need to for peoples' safety, but for now everything is smooth sailing.
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