Business

Ocean Boulevard golf cart ban to stay in place

Golf carts flow along with bike traffic on Ocean Boulevard on Tuesday, May 24 but will have to cease operations for Memorial Day weekend according to an order issued by Myrtle Beach City Manager John Pedersen. The ban will affect Ocean Boulevard from 29th Avenue North to Kings Highway through the busy weekend.
Golf carts flow along with bike traffic on Ocean Boulevard on Tuesday, May 24 but will have to cease operations for Memorial Day weekend according to an order issued by Myrtle Beach City Manager John Pedersen. The ban will affect Ocean Boulevard from 29th Avenue North to Kings Highway through the busy weekend. jlee@thesunnews

One golf cart and mo-peds rental shop owner pleaded with the city to rethink a recent directive that bans golf carts from a large portion of Ocean Boulevard during the Memorial Day weekend, saying the 11th-hour action would cost him about $80,000 in business.

But the council was evenly split on whether or not to direct City Manager John Pedersen to change the directive he issued over the weekend.

Without a majority of support to change the order, Pedersen said the decision would stay, but added it was a very hard decision to make.

“There are a number of businesses that are affected by the plans that we put in place,” he said, but “there is no way to manage this event without incurring those sorts of hits. … We can’t make sure that no businesses are affected or that becomes the priority rather than the safety of the residents and guests.”

In an email sent to Myrtle Beach City Council members over the weekend, Pedersen said he had directed the police department to enforce a ban on golf carts operating along Ocean Boulevard from 29th Avenue North to Kings Highway. The golf cart prohibition will begin at 12:01 a.m. Friday and continue until the barricades are removed from the strip on Monday.

I don’t want to flood the streets with golf carts and then we have an issue. But there’s an $80,000 loss in one weekend for my company and we can’t sustain that.

Ben Robinson, owner of Moped Rentals of Myrtle Beach and Rent Me Superstore

Myrtle Beach Police Department Chief Warren Gall said the order is needed because officials found there would be nowhere for golf cart renters to go and make it legally back to their hotels on the boulevard.

Last year, he said, there was an abundance of golf carts “taking over the roads” and with many of the cross streets blocked between Ocean Boulevard and Kings Highway, many of the golf carts were forced onto Kings Highway, where state law prohibits them from operating.

He said they also had issues with golf carts operating in last year’s traffic loop, which is in effect between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Friday through Sunday. Golf carts are prohibited from operating after dark under state law.

Pedersen announced in March that mo-peds and golf carts would have to stay off of traffic loop roads beginning at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Jack Scoville, an attorney representing Moped Rentals of Myrtle Beach and Rent Me Superstore owner Ben Robinson, said that’s what his client thought would be in place when he leased an additional 50 golf carts to rent out for the Memorial Day weekend.

Robinson said that acquisition cost him $20,000 and his company has made more than $50,000 in golf cart rental sales over Memorial Day weekends - one of their busiest weekends of the year.

We can’t make sure that no businesses are affected or that becomes the priority rather than the safety of the residents and guests.

John Pedersen, Myrtle Beach city manager

At least two of Robinson’s businesses operate within an area affected by the order where customers would not be able to legally leave the lots with rented golf carts.

“The directive doesn’t stop us from renting the golf carts. Do I want to rent golf carts if it’s going to be a huge problem for the city? No, I really don’t want to do that. I don’t want to flood the streets with golf carts and then we have an issue. But there’s an $80,000 loss in one weekend for my company and we can’t sustain that,” Robinson said. “As a responsible business owner I obviously can’t put my business in peril that way.”

Mayor John Rhodes and Mayor pro tem Mike Lowder expressed concerns with the directive being issued days before the Memorial Day weekend.

“I’ve got to tell you as a person who’s in business, if you looked at me today and told me that … you were going to cause me to lose $50,000 … if you told me at the 11th hour when I am just about banking on that money to come my way, that’s not just an inconvenience, that’s a devastation,” Lowder said.

But a majority decision could not be reached on the council, leaving the directive in place.

Emily Weaver: 843-444-1722, @TSNEmily

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