Beach services to take non-confrontational approach to those bringing tents to area beaches

Beach-goers who bring tents to the beach will be reminded by beach service workers that the tents are now banned, and those that refuse to comply likely will have to deal with a beach patrol officer.

Lifeguards often will be the initial person to notify people who bring tents to the beach that they are not allowed. Because the tent bans were approved just before the tourist season geared up, beachgoers likely will have a learning curve this year because there wasn’t much time to spread the word about the bans before summer.

Monday will be the first day of a ban on canopy-style tents on the beach in Myrtle Beach, where the tents are banned from Memorial Day to Labor Day. North Myrtle Beach and Atlantic Beach banned the canopy-style tents from May 15 to Sept. 15.

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

Area governments approved the bans in recent weeks saying the tents can get in the way of safety personnel and that there isn’t enough beach along some parts of the Grand Strand to accommodate all the large tent canopies. The use of tents on the beach has surged in recent years, and rules for them that area governments put in place a few years ago haven’t worked, which led to the bans, they say.

In North Myrtle Beach, spokesman Pat Dowling said lifeguards will inform people with tents of the changes to the law.

“We’ve had a few people walk onto the beach with tents, but they’ve taken it well,” he said. “And we’ll give them a courtesy umbrella to use for the day.”

Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes said lifeguards and beach patrol are planning to work with beachgoers as much as possible.

“We’re going to go out and tell them that we have an ordinance that was changed,” he said. “We’re going to work with our tourists who come in because they’re not all going to be aware of what the rules are.”

George Lack, owner of Lack’s Beach Service, said his lifeguards have laminated copies of the law so they can let people know the canopy-style tents are prohibited on the beach. Lack’s offers beach service in parts of Myrtle Beach and the unincorporated areas of Horry County from Myrtle Beach north to North Myrtle Beach and south to Surfside Beach.

“Our approach is absolutely non-confrontational,” he said. “If someone gets angry we’ve told our lifeguards to call on beach patrol to deal with it.”

Earl Huggins of Huggins’ Beach Service said lifeguards have been instructed to notify anyone who has a tent of the law. Huggins provides services from 14th Avenue North to Second Avenue North in Myrtle Beach.

“All our rules are backed by the beach patrol,” he said. “If they don’t adhere the beach patrol will give them a warning.”

Horry County administrator Chris Eldridge said there are people at most street ends to catch any beach-goers who might have tents with them as they walk to the beach.

“We’re there to work with people, not to write tickets,” Eldridge said earlier this month. “It will be tougher as we go on. Memorial Day weekend will be the first weekend we’re very busy. But so far so good.”

Beach patrol officers have said they believe they will spend some time informing beach-goers of the change this season, but the time should decrease as the word gets out.

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 could be a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 30 days in jail. Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea said the court has set a $262 fine for a tent violation, which includes court costs.