Beachgoers on Horry County beaches no longer will be able to erect tents now that Horry County Council voted Tuesday to implement a ban.
The county and area cities have been working for months to address beach tents, which law enforcement officials have said cause a hazard when they are responding to emergencies on the beach. Council voted 9-1; Councilman Paul Prince cast the dissenting vote.
“Removing the canopies and tents from the beach is a very, very unfair thing to do to our citizens and our taxpayers and other county visitors from the United States,” Prince said. “There are several groups that go on the beach. Some go out there and lay on the towels, some lay on blankets, some get under umbrellas and some get under canopies. We’re picking on one group of these people who go on the beach and I think that’s very, very unfair. We need... to let the people have the things they need to help take care of their safety and well-being.
“Some families can do fine in the sun for a long period of time and some families cannot do that. It’s wrong to take their safety away from them on the beach that belongs to the people of America, the people of the United States. It’s wrong for us to decide we’re going to take the rights of the people away.”
Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach already have banned the canopy-style beach tents from Memorial Day to Labor Day and from May 15 to Sept. 15, respectively. The move has been a collective one among coastal communities.
Government officials from each community have said verbal warnings will be given to violators, and those who continue to disobey the law will face a misdemeanor, which is a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 30 days in jail.
Officials at Ocean Lakes Family Campground were preparing a strategy Tuesday to get the word out to tourists about the tent ban before they arrive for their vacation.
Talk of tent bans in recent weeks already had prompted guests to call and send messages to the campground asking questions or expressing their desire to still use their tents, Ocean Lakes spokeswoman Barb Krumm said.
“We know we are going to get bombarded tomorrow with questions [after Horry County’s final vote on the ban],” Krumm said Tuesday. “People who come from out of town have really gotten attached to their tents.”
With the summer around the corner, the new tent ban didn’t make Ocean Lakes’ magazine or spring newsletter, so the campground plans to spread the word about the ban with posts on its Facebook page and website starting Wednesday and through an email to folks who stay there.
“It’s just a matter of bad timing in terms of communicating it,” Krumm said. “It missed all of our major print communications.”
Ocean Lakes also ordered 24 signs with info about the tent ban Tuesday to install at its beach accesses to serve as a last-resort notification as beachgoers head to the sand.
Krumm said the campground will work to spread the word now because she didn’t want beachgoers arriving for their vacation then finding out they can’t use their tent, which could lead to some disappointed guests taking out their frustration on the campground’s front-line workers.
“It’s really about educating guests,” Krumm said. “You just don’t want anybody caught off guard.”