By Paul Gable
An ordinance establishing a year around ban on beach tents on the unincorporated beaches of Horry County easily passed second reading last night.
By a 10-1 vote, Horry County has come to within final reading of banning all sun shielding devices except beach umbrellas with a maximum diameter of seven and one-half feet.
When final reading passes, Horry County will join Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach in making Grand Strand beaches generally free of beach tents. Only Surfside Beach, Atlantic Beach and the state park have yet to join their larger neighbors in a beach tent ban.
Surprisingly, there was very little public comment at second reading of the ordinance. Two citizens supported the beach tent ban while three opposed it during public hearing.
This certainly didn’t rise to one percent of the controversy that bike week ordinances stirred five years ago, probably because there are genuine public safety concerns associated with beach tents strewn all over the sand.
Despite emails sent to council members, by out of state visitors, threatening to find other vacation destinations that don’t have a ban on beach tents, millions will still come to the beaches of Horry County this coming summer season.
Sun, sand and surf will win out as they always have, as well as certain visual attractions for some beach goers, and the tourist industry won’t be threatened by the beach tent ban.
And, rainy summer days will still find the beaches generally empty and the roads jammed to parking lot status, despite concerns expressed by some of the dangers of too much exposure to the sun.