The Surfside Beach Town Council on Tuesday evening passed a second reading that allows tents on the beach, with all but one council member voting in favor of it.
The ordinance will allow tents on the beach as long as they are backed up to the emergency lane that leaves eight feet of space from the dune. Tents will now be required to be spaced 10 feet apart, a change from the first reading that stated tents must be six feet apart.
“I went down yesterday and actually did some tests with this, just to actually see what was possible,” Surfside Police Chief Kenneth Hofmann said. “I think this is a good compromise and I think that it is something that we can enforce. We’re going to focus on education rather than enforcement. If this is agreeable, I think that this is something that we can handle.”
During the first reading of the ordinance Hofmann expressed concerns while leaving wiggle room, stating: “I think the beach was safer without tents. I’d like to see compromise and I think this is a really reasonable compromise.”
However, councilman Randal Stevens proposed that tents be place 15 to 20 feet apart, in order to allow more space for emergency vehicles. Mayor Bob Childs disagreed, stating that families want to remain close together.
“I don’t believe that we have enough guidelines for this to be enforced correctly,” Stevens said. “And when we come back with some guidelines, I’ll be happy to vote for it.”
Stevens expressed other concerns revolving around marking the spaces so that police can easily enforce the 10-foot rule, and whether there was liability that the town could face if it allowed the tents.
“The tent people are happy, the umbrella people are happy, everybody’s happy,” Childs said. “In the future we’ll be reviewing this.”
Tents will not be allowed on the beach between 9 p.m. and 7:30 a.m., and they cannot exceed 10 feet by 10 feet.
Surfside is the only area of the Grand Strand that allows tents on the beach.