Myrtle Beach’s beach advisory committee last week decided to postpone its recent recommendation to allow wind-driven shading devices like the Shibumi Shade on the beach next summer for a trial run.
Right now, wind-driven devices are only allowed in Myrtle Beach during the off-season when tourism isn’t as heavy as during the summer months.
“The Beach Advisory Committee decided to delay making a recommendation about wind powered shading devices until it had more information about the possible placement of code enforcement officers on the beach to regulate compliance,” city spokesman Mark Kruea said in an email.
In October, the committee asked staff to come up with an ordinance that would allow wind-driven shading devices no bigger than 80 square feet on the beach in residential areas but not commercial areas.
But committee chair Steve Taylor said that the police and fire department were concerned that allowing wind-driven shading devices would create problems with enforcement because the shading devices come in different shapes, leading to confusion about which ones were allowed and which ones weren’t.
And because there are no signs on the beach marking the difference between city residential beach areas, city commercial beach areas and county jurisdiction beach areas, folks could have difficulty figuring out where the shading devices could be set up.
“Our concern is not really the ordinance itself, it’s the enforcement of the ordinance, and ‘Does it present another distraction?’” Taylor said. “So what we did is just ask to put this off again so we can go back to staff and possibly council and ask if there’s a way that we could get the police and the fire department some help to enforce code violations on the beach.”
Dane Barnes, co-founder of wind-driven shading device company Shibumi Shade, said that his company is committed to working with the city to come up with a “win-win outcome.”
He said that allowing Shibumi shades reduces beach shade ordinance violations, citing Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, as an example.
“Shibumi has never received a complaint from any government about its beach shades," Barnes said in an email. “Shibumi beach shades are allowed and enjoyed in over 700 beaches in the United States (over 99%) year-round. Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, and unincorporated Horry County Beaches are the only beaches from Maryland to Texas that do not allow Shibumi beach shades.”
Last summer, Ocean Isle Beach decided to allow wind-driven shading devices for a trial run.
“We did try to restrict them to within a certain distance of the dunes so they wouldn’t be all over the beach,” said Mayor Debbie Smith, but after police kept telling folks to move them, they got rid of the location restriction. “I didn’t see a big problem because most people kept them on the soft sand beach anyway, which was closer to the dunes.”
Since allowing them anywhere on the beach, Smith said the town hasn’t had any problems with enforcement or an excessive number of citations.
“The biggest concerns that I heard were the size of them; they’re bigger than an umbrella,” Smith said. “But you put three or four umbrellas together and they’re bigger than a Shibumi. Some people complain about them being noisy. I’ve sat right beside them and I’ve never been aggravated by any noise.”
If the town did try to get rid of them after allowing them for the trial run, Smith said, “My whole town board might be hung off the side of the bridge.”
But Taylor said his committee wanted to support city staff and their recommendation.
“There’s concern from the fire department and police department that this would be a distraction and take away from their ability to do what they are there to do, which is make the beach a safer place,” Taylor said. “We also recognize that wind-driven shading devices are popular, offer a safe, less cumbersome alternative for the elderly and visitors. They’re kind of a new product so we wanted to give the ordinance a good vetting.”