Local government officials to consider aligning beach tent bans after this year

The mayors of Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach said they would consider working to align the beach tent bans each city put into effect this year to ease any confusion beachgoers may have.

Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes told other members of the Coastal Alliance – a group that represents Horry County and cities along the Grand Strand – on Wednesday that after this year, leaders should work together to compromise on the specifics of the ban.

“Let’s see how this thing works out this year and let’s see if we can come up with some kind of common ground,” he said.

North Myrtle Beach and Atlantic Beach banned the canopy-style tents from May 15 to Sept. 15; use is banned in Myrtle Beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Atlantic Beach was the most recent municipality to ban tents, passing its law on Monday, town manager William Booker said.

Horry County has banned tents on county beaches year round. The ban took effect April 16. All four jurisdictions allow umbrellas as the only shading device on the beach during the stipulated times.

Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said there has been no indication that the Horry County Council would consider changing its ban to have it be in effect only during the summer.

North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley said the City Council chose the dates based on when the city’s other beach laws are in effect.

“Instead of trying to have two or three different timetables, it’s better this way,” she said.

In Myrtle Beach, other beach laws go into effect at the beginning of May. Pets and bicycles only are allowed on the beach before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m. from May 1 to Labor Day.

“Our beach laws go into effect at different points,” Myrtle Beach city manager Tom Leath said. “It makes sense for us to be the ones to change.”

There also are differences in the size of umbrellas allowed in each jurisdiction. In Horry County and Myrtle Beach, umbrellas can be no larger than 7 feet, 6 inches in diameter. In North Myrtle Beach and Atlantic Beach, umbrellas can be up to 9 feet in diameter.

Surfside Beach Mayor Doug Samples said the town will continue to see what the impact, if any, will be of tents being banned everywhere in the county except for Surfside Beach.

“The town has taken a wait-and-see approach to it and if there’s any problem with public safety I’m sure the council will visit the issue then,” he said. “We’ll be watching very carefully the impact it has.”

Tents have been a discussion point among Grand Strand beach communities for the past few years and was brought back up for discussion during a June 2013 meeting of the Myrtle Beach Beach Advisory Committee.

Committee members sent a recommendation to the Myrtle Beach City Council suggesting the tents be banned from May 1 to Labor Day. Council members sent the issue to the Coastal Alliance in August hoping to reach consistency along the beach.

In December, North Myrtle Beach considered banning the tents in three areas where erosion has made the beach too small to handle all the canopies, but that was voted down.