Moped and golf cart rental businesses may once again face new regulations if Myrtle Beach City Council members pass an ordinance that would limit the number of vehicles they rent out and where the businesses can set up shop.
The new rules, first proposed this week at City Council, say the city can shut down a rental business and that police officers can tell a company to stop renting vehicles for up to four hours if they feel there are too many golf carts and mopeds on the road.
An agreement must be approved by City Council each year. At the renewal council members can alter the number of vehicles a business can rent, either raising or lowering the number. City Council can cancel an agreement at any time.
The point is to regulate how many mopeds and golf carts are on the roads in order to stop traffic congestion and help with public safety, according to John Pedersen, Myrtle Beach city manager.
“It’s very similar to what we do with taxicabs,” Mark Kruea, Myrtle Beach public information officers, said. “We limit the number of taxicabs. Nobody would check them for cleanliness, nobody would check them for safety, nobody would check them for insurance, nobody would check them to see if the driver’s had criminal records or even if they had driver’s licenses or had personal insurance.”
Once an application is approved, each vehicle will receive an identification tag, much like a license plate, which costs $25 per vehicle. The tag will help police officers to identify which mopeds and golf carts are part of a business with a franchise agreement and which ones are operating unlawfully, Pedersen said.
The identification tag and the application must be renewed yearly, meaning that business owners must go before City Council each year.
“They’ll come back in and annually council will make a decision,” Pedersen said. “If there’s anything egregious that happened after the issuance then council can make an adjustment, but the expectation would be that if there is a general sense that we’ve got 10 percent too many or something like that they’ll make an adjustment during the next go around.”
This is not the first time that the city has worked to regulate mopeds and golf carts on the streets.
In May, City Council passed rental rules that stated Pedersen could call a rental business and compel it to close temporarily. The rules passed also say that rental places can’t have more mopeds and golf carts than the need for the 2016 peak season.
“We had a couple of different problems,” Pedersen said. “One was we had so many it was very difficult to tell which ones were legit and which ones weren’t. So we solved that by basically putting a license plate as the evidence you’ve got a franchise.
“We’ve also got a permit for a location. On a busy weekend all of a sudden you’d have pop-ups where all of a sudden people would be renting mopeds off a corner. And the police officers did not know if that was legitimate or not legitimate.”
Capt. Joey Crosby with the Myrtle Beach Police Department would not specify specific incidents that officers have seen stating, “We do not comment on an ordinance until it has been passed. We don’t want to appear to influence the decision.
If a business does not apply for the franchise agreement they will pay $500 per vehicle per day.
The Sun News reached out to several rental business but none would comment.