Myrtle Beach’s Yaupon Drive has a reputation as the site of multiple prostitution and drug arrests, but residents there are pushing to rehabilitate its image with a name change.
The southern end of the corridor already refers to itself as “South Beach,” and many residents have ordered T-shirts with the new name and the slogan “Life’s a Beach.”
But residents want to rename Yaupon Drive to South Beach Drive from 19th Avenue South to 29th Avenue South.
Craig Teller, organizer of the area’s neighborhood watch, said residents up and down the street are almost universally supportive of the change. “Everybody is in favor of it,” he said.
Teller began the neighborhood watch in the area about six years ago, he said, and residents in the area have been diligent about calling authorities if they see suspicious behavior. At the group’s Tuesday night meeting, Teller also lauded Myrtle Beach Police and Street Crimes officer Austin Cox for a reduction in crime.
But not everyone at the meeting was happy with the name change.
“Criminals care what the name of the street is?” asked Bettie Bobo-Olivieri, who lives just a few streets north of the boundaries of South Beach.
Several people responded that home buyers care about the name, and that the change could improve property values.
City Manager John Pedersen said the name change could only be achieved after two hearings before the Planning Commission. The first would have to release the name, because other property owners have previously been awarded the rights to the similar “South Beach Boulevard.”
A second hearing to change the name for the 10 blocks of Yaupon Drive would occur if the commission is presented with a petition signed by 75 percent of the property owners in the affected area.
Myrtle Beach’s Planning Commission could consider the name change if 75 percent of affected property owners approve it in a petition.
Another change that’s been discussed among residents, Teller said, is converting Yaupon Drive to a one-way northbound road between 19th and 18th Avenues South. The change would force drivers to take a detour to enter the southern portion of the street.
“The first thing that we’re going to do on that would be to...have our engineers look at it to see what the technical consequences are of that,” Pedersen said. “Then we’ll take it from there.”
Teller said that the traffic change would “psychologically and physically separate between the northern Yaupon corridor and the southern.”
But Bobo-Olivieri said she is also opposed to that idea. “It’s like you’re separating yourself from the rest of Myrtle Beach,” she said.