‘Smutty’ souvenir ban on Ocean Boulevard delayed

Myrtle Beach City Council delayed a measure Tuesday morning that would have stopped shops on Ocean Boulevard from selling certain items.

The proposal would bar drug paraphernalia, merchandise that references drugs, sexually-oriented materials and weapons from shops. The zoning change also would stop shops from having “barkers,” or employees that call out to passersby, and would affect the area from Sixth Avenue South to 16th Avenue North.

Tim Wilkes, who owns some beachwear stores in the city, argued the language of the ordinance was unclear and could bar shops from simply selling tobacco-related goods.

“When you start saying you can smoke tobacco with a cigarette and you can’t smoke it with a rolling paper, it’s a slippery slope,” Wilkes told city council.

Council members Randal Wallace and Mike Lowder both asked that council delay an initial approval of the ordinance until they could get a legal briefing from City Attorney Tom Ellenburg. Ellenburg was ill and not present at city council on Tuesday.

But, Lowder said, “Quite honestly, I haven’t seen anybody roll no tobacco to smoke in a long time.”

The proposed ban comes as Myrtle Beach is trying to find ways to change the atmosphere of Ocean Boulevard, which was the site of recent violence after several shootings in April.

The proposal also would require shops to install and maintain security camera systems. It would give shops a 12-month period after it is enacted to come into compliance, after which shops would not be granted a new business license if they do not stop selling the items in question.

It will come before the Planning Commission in the coming weeks, and would need two approvals by city council before being enacted.

Chloe Johnson: 843-626-0381, @_ChloeAJ