Residents opposed to parking fees say they aren’t giving up their fight to access to the same public beaches as Myrtle Beach residents and are now seeking support from state lawmakers.
The Horry County Council decided against pursing legal action against the city after advice Tuesday from their attorney that their legal standing is questionable.
It would be up to local residents to pursue a lawsuit, said Arrigo Carotti, Horry County attorney.
Activists who have led the movement against the beach parking fees say they don’t have a lawyer, but they do have representatives in the state legislature.
“There’s a lot of money that flows from the county and state into Myrtle Beach, and the Myrtle Beach City Council seems to want the money, but not the people,” said Rich Malzone, spokesman for Make Myrtle Beaches, Free, Clean, and Safe.
“The us versus them has to end,” Malzone said. “And, they are the ones that put the wall up.”
Malzone says the group, which boasts 4,000 members on Facebook, will be contacting state representatives and senators to pressure the city to rethink the parking rules and fees.
When the city instituted the parking fees last summer, Myrtle Beach residents were excluded because city officials said they already pay through vehicle taxes.
County residents can buy a $100 decal, but that doesn’t allow parking along the Golden Mile. Many locals say they would pay the $100 fee, if they could park in the same lots where locals are permitted to access the beach.
Numerous members of the county council say Myrtle Beach is treating county residents unfair, and Councilman Harold Worley first suggested they consider legal action to determine whether the city is violating its contract with the Army Corps of Engineers, which uses federal tax dollars to conduct beach renourishment projects.
The Army Corps said last summer the parking fees do not violate the contract, but that was after the city abandoned plans to limit street parking along the Golden Mile to residents only.
“The intent was for equal access, period, that’s what’s in the contract,” Worley said Wednesday. “The corps can let them off the hook if they want, and that’s their prerogative.”
“But in my personal opinion, the corps has laid down because of politics,” Worley said.