Could Horry County get a parking authority to govern parking along the entire Grand Strand?
It could happen within 12 months, according to county council Chair Mark Lazarus.
Lazarus and other coastal leaders discussed the plan at the Coastal Alliance Tuesday.
"Everybody agreed," Lazarus said. "The premise behind it is the problem's not going to go away, it’s only going to grow."
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Horry County will take the lead, and ask city planners at all the coastal cities to help come up with a comprehensive plan to govern parking along the Grand Strand.
"The ultimate goal is to manage parking and come up with parking solutions for the entire Grand Strand, Horry County area," Lazarus said. "I hope we would make available more parking for everybody. The cities have the same issue, the cities are growing too, and the people who live in the cities who live don’t live on the beach, they want visit the beach too."
Beach parking, especially in Myrtle Beach, has been a source of frustration for county residents like those in Carolina Forest. Myrtle Beach residents can get a sticker to park for free, but county residents have to pay to park at the beach.
“We have a parking shortage all over Myrtle Beach and we just can’t promise that everybody can park everywhere they want to,” Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune said. “So, the parking authority will be able to give us ideas and show us ways we can even possibly increase our parking areas where it makes sense.”
In late November, Bethune suggested reopening the conversation with county council to make parking in the city more affordable to county residents.
Now, she hopes a parking authority will take the lead on helping to solve parking issues and “help us to make good decisions that are based on facts and knowing the steps that we need to take.”
Before an authority can be formed, the county and cities' legal departments will have to look at how to lawfully set up a parking authority, and determine whether the governing board will be elected or appointed, and what sort of oversight the authority will have from cities and the county.
"I’m sure it’s going to have some oversight," Lazarus said. "The devil’s in the details and I hope we can come up with that."