Some Horry County residents will be able to buy a North Myrtle Beach parking decal for $200 under an ordinance that passed first reading Friday afternoon. The ordinance still needs to pass second reading before becoming law.
The change is just one of several included in the new rules that North Myrtle Beach plans to implement for the 2020 parking season that runs from March 1 through October 31.
“The paid parking was a new adventure for us last year,” said Mayor Marilyn Hatley. “It was very successful. It did help with the parking issues that we were having. But we still have some parking issues. A lot of people in the community loved what we did but want to take it a step further.”
Last year, the city began charging $2 an hour to park in city lots connected to Ocean Boulevard, except for vehicles with parking decals. City residents were able to get the decals for free, but the decals were not available to county residents.
Now, for $200 per decal, the city is offering 200 parking decals to county residents on a first come, first serve basis, limited to one per person.
“We had people who talked to us about people who lived in the county who wanted to have a parking pass,” Hatley said. “We were finding that more and more people were parking on the side streets because it was free. Those are the issues we were trying to address.”
This summer, the city will also begin charging $2 an hour on some side streets, where parking in rights-of-way used to be free.
The city hopes that by charging the same rate for both the busier side streets and the Ocean Boulevard lots, beach-goers will gravitate toward Ocean Boulevard and fill up those spaces before parking in residential areas.
Finally, the city has increased the number of decals available to residents and non-resident property owners.
Residents who were limited to two can now buy a third for $200, and non-resident property owners who were limited to one golf cart decal – if the golf cart was permitted to their North Myrtle address - can now get one decal for a vehicle and can buy another for $200.
The city said it made an initial $750,000 investment in the paid parking program rolled out last year, and generated about $500,000 in revenue last year. More than 60,300 vehicles paid to park, and the city expects to fully recoup on its investment in 2020.
The city hopes to use revenue from the paid parking program to buy land for more parking lots.
“We’re going to see how it works,” the mayor said. “Our parking program was very successful. This money that we generated this year and the money we’ll generate next year will help us buy more parking. The more parking we can buy, maybe those numbers will change. We’ll see. We’re just trying to be fair to everyone.”
The city is also adding state laws pertaining to parking into the city ordinance, which will allow parking management workers contracted by the city to enforce those rules.