By Paul Gable
The recent beach tent bans deliberated by three local governments in Horry County have drawn criticism from both locals and tourists as more big government intrusion on individual rights.
North Myrtle Beach passed final reading on an ordinance earlier this week banning tents in the peak summer season, May 15th – September 15th. In addition, beach umbrellas may provide shaded area of no more than 9 ft. diameter circle.
Myrtle Beach has passed first reading of an ordinance banning beach tents from Memorial Day to Labor Day while Horry County has passed first reading of an ordinance banning beach tents year around.
Myrtle Beach also passed first reading of an ordinance barring hotels from renting or otherwise providing beach umbrellas and beach chairs to guests. It appears personally owned umbrellas and chairs are still allowed.
While all three jurisdictions have said public safety concerns were behind the ordinances, they are beginning to smell more like flow control of beach shading devices.
If you want to rent umbrellas and chairs from beach service operators contracted with Myrtle Beach and Horry County, or directly from the city of North Myrtle Beach, which runs its own concessions, there is no problem.
Sounds like protecting the revenues to the cities, county and their contractors, where applicable, at the expense of other private businesses. In the case of Myrtle Beach, that attitude seems pretty well founded.
Here we go again, the city that essentially banned bike rallies and the county that attempted to restrict bike rallies are now extending their government control to all summer tourists.
Is there really a public safety problem or are public safety personnel supporting their beach service buddies by exacerbating the problem?
Both locals and tourists have been slamming Facebook with negative comments about the bans as well as sending emails to council members, emails to this publication and to the Big Talk television show.
However, it appears at this point, Surfside Beach may be the only location in Horry County that won’t be banning beach tents this summer.