The North Myrtle Beach city council on Monday passed sweeping parking changes that will go into effect starting June 15.
Changes include the beginning of paid parking, and streamlining enforcement of the new parking rules.
The paid parking program goes from June 15 through October 31 this year. If there are no changes, the program will go from March 1 through October 31 starting next year.
How it works
An analysis by consulting firm Kimley-Horn showed 2,449 public parking spots in the city, and city officials said 1,300 of those are on either side of Ocean Boulevard.
Starting June 15, those Ocean Boulevard parking lots will cost $2 per hour from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The paid parking does not affect any parking lots that are not directly connected to the boulevard, such as the parking lot at 37th Ave. South and Seaview Street in Windy Hill, which is still just a block from the ocean.
Full-time residents can park for free, though. They can get a maximum of two decals for no charge by bringing their vehicle registration and driver’s license to the business license division at city hall. Full-time residents whose cars are registered to a company may also get a parking decal for $50 per vehicle by bringing their property tax bill and driver’s license to city hall.
The maximum of two decals can be used for any combination of vehicle and golf cart. City spokesman Pat Dowling said the city has already given out 8,000 decals to city residents.
Right now, non-resident property owners are not eligible for decals unless they have a vehicle registered to their North Myrtle Beach address, and non-residents who do not own property in the city are not eligible for a decal.
For folks without a decal, there are a couple options to pay: a parking app or a payment kiosk.
The Passport Parking app is available on Apple and Android phones. You can pay through the app, and pay for extra time if needed without going back to the vehicle. The kiosks will be installed in the parking lots, and only take credit or debit cards, so neither parking payment option will let you use cash.
If you have a handicap license plate, you can park for free at any public parking spot.
A change to an existing ordinance makes it easier for the city to deal with people who block public rights-of-way and park illegally.
Dowling said the city is contracting with Lanier Parking Solutions to manage the new parking program. Under the new rules, the parking management company will have the authority to issue citations to vehicles parked illegally.
If a car has $75 or more in past-due citations, it’s considered a public nuisance, according to the ordinance, and the parking management company will have the authority to immobilize the vehicle for up to 48 hours while the owner pays the fine. If the owner doesn’t pay, the city can impound the car at the owner’s expense.
There’s some good news for non-residents who park in public rights-of-way. The new rules make it easier for the city to remove items in public rights-of way that adjacent property owners sometimes intentionally block, giving the city manager the authority to immediately remove such blockages.
Not everyone is happy.
“This is our second year as permanent residents,” said Janet Reger, who lives in Little River with her husband. “While I realize that there is an ongoing cost for upkeep and maintenance of the parking lots and beaches, I feel that the daily, hourly parking fees would adversely affect many Horry County residents, and especially retirees on a fixed income.”
Reger told city council on Monday that she and her husband go to the beach for several hours, several times a week, and estimated that paid parking would cost them upwards of $500 this summer if they continued to park in the Ocean Boulevard lots.
“You can see for retirees, that’s quite costly,” she said.
Reger asked the city to consider some parking decal options for non-residents, given that many of them support North Myrtle Beach businesses. It's an idea that officials said has been discussed in the past. But right now, the city is focusing on its current program.
“Our goal is to get it up and operating, make it through the summer and then we can step back and look at what we can do to make it better for everyone,” said City Manager Mike Mahaney. “And that may include some sort of lottery system for the county residents. It may be a $250 annual fee. We just don’t know.”