North Myrtle and Atlantic Beach

Pictured from bottom to top, are North Myrtle Beach's Windy Hill neighborhood, the town of Atlantic Beach, and North Myrtle's Crescent Beach neighborhood. North Myrtle Beach is planning to hold a workshop to regulate short-term rentals in the town. 

Within the next couple of weeks, North Myrtle Beach City Council will host a workshop to discuss how to regulate short-term rentals, picking up where they left off in February before COVID-19 changed councilors’ focus. 

Over the years, residents have complained about loud parties, dozens of people packed into homes in residential neighborhoods, trash piling up, too many cars in the street and excessive noise into the early morning hours. 

Mayor Marilyn Hatley said the issues are more prominent at privately-rented houses or Airbnbs in R-1 zoning designations where the owners are not local and maintain the units as rentals. 

The R-1 zoning designation is reserved for low-density residential areas that primarily consist of single-family homes. 

“What we are thinking is regulating them more,” Hatley said. “For instance, the parking, how many cars could be parked on a certain-size home? Also, we’re looking at working on the problems we have with trash. We’re also looking at the noise problems that we are having; the parties, the noise that we’re having from homes.”

The mayor said the biggest issues are from privately-rented homes with owners who aren’t locals, because unlike the rental companies, it’s harder for the city to contact people who aren’t around. 

Hatley said the city is interested in a three-strikes-and-you’re-out approach while requiring the owners to provide the city a name and telephone number so the officials know who’s responsible.

“Now they’re going to have to give us a telephone number and a name of a person who should be contacted, because they’re going to have to handle their problem,” Hatley said. “And after three warnings, we will take their license.” 

Windy Hill councilor Nikki Fontana said she’s gotten several complaints recently from people in her district. 

“It’s an abundance of trash, noise, I think somebody knocked over a part of their fence or something,” she said. 

Fontana said she asked city workers to send more trashcans to one particular property because trash was piling up. 

“Trash, noise, it’s everywhere,” she added. “It’s not just my district, it’s throughout the whole city.”

Houses can be rented out several times per week, and the out-of-town occupants often don’t know when it’s trash day, creating a stinky situation for neighbors. City spokesperson Pat Dowling floated the idea that twice-a-week trash pickup in some neighborhoods might help.

The city’s response to issues so far has been reactionary, and city officials want a comprehensive document that would lay out the rules and regulations for short-term rental unit owners to follow. 

A Change.org petition started by a person wishing to remain anonymous asks the city to ban short-term rentals in R-1 and R-2 zoning districts. The petition paints a gaudy picture of the problems residents say they face during parties at certain rental units.

“Nudity, sex, swingers, heavy drinking, loud cursing, loud music, and no property management to enforce decency,” the petition states. “Suddenly, you cannot spend time in your own backyard during the day without being uncomfortable, you won't dare let your children out in the yard!” 

So far, the petition, featuring a picture from movie “Project X” about a wild high school party, has racked up more than 130 electronic signatures. 

The mayor said the city hasn’t yet discussed banning short-term rentals in particular zoning districts. 

“I imagine that may come up concerning R-1,” said Hatley. “It may come up in a discussion, but certainly those who are already renting would be grandfathered in.” 

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