’We need to make sure our front door ... looks great’: MB cracks down on trash pickup

Couches sit along Yaupon Drive between 15th Avenue South and 16th Avenue South next to a no dumping sign.
Couches sit along Yaupon Drive between 15th Avenue South and 16th Avenue South next to a no dumping sign. hstrong@thesunnews.com

For Bettie Olivieri, seeing garbage such as couches, mattresses and trash bags sitting on the side of her road isn’t an uncommon sight.

Yaupon Drive and 16th Avenue South in Myrtle Beach is a common dumping ground for furniture despite signs that threaten fines up to $500 for putting garbage on the side of the road.

“It’s really bad on 16th, and all of us are guilty,” said Bettie Olivieri, a Yaupon Drive resident. “There’s an empty lot across the street behind Hungry Howies that I think everybody from the apartments across the street and us, if we’ve got something to get rid of, we take it there cause we really don’t know where we’re supposed to take it, I guess.”

A door sits on top of a pile on garbage on Yaupon Drive between 20th Avenue South and 19th Avenue South. Hannah Strong hstrong@thesunnews.com

The City of Myrtle Beach is cracking down on code enforcement in areas east of Kings Highway, city spokesman Mark Kruea said.

Over the past year, the city hired two new code enforcement officers to focus on enforcing ordinances, cleaning up garbage along the streets and checking to see if buildings are up to code.

“We need to make sure our front door, Ocean Boulevard, the boardwalk, looks great,” Kruea said. “So they’ve been advising the property owners and the managers this needs to be fixed, that needs to be fixed. They’ve been aggressive about it.”

But Yaupon Drive isn’t the only area of the city that sees trash piled up. Residents along 71st Avenue North said they often see garbage from home repairs placed near the road.

Beverly Hancock, a resident on the street, said the issue stems from people not knowing when garbage should be put out, and what can be thrown away.

Vic Shamah, owner of the Bowery and other Myrtle Beach properties, said keeping the downtown area clean is important for the tourism industry.

“To me, it’s show business,” Shamah said. “We have to make it look good, we have to make everything look good in order to make it enticing for our guests for them to have a great time, an enjoyable time.”

“It’s going to have to be little by little,” Shamah said. “You’re not talking about the Grande Dunes, or you’re not talking about Pine Lakes, you’re not talking about Market Commons. Those are well-kept. These properties down in this area have been owned by the same people for so long and they’re not upkept.”

“It used to happen a lot more”

According to Christopher Lee, director of construction services for the city, a legal process is in place for property owners who violate city code.

Lee said if the issue is a simple code violation, such as having grass over 12 inches high, a letter is sent to the property owner saying they have a week to fix the problem. If they do not fix it within the time frame, the city can go out and cut the grass themselves and send a bill to the property owner.

This process is used for trash on properties too. According to Kruea, the business community has to hire a commercial contractor to take their trash away. Businesses can also use one of the trash compactors in Myrtle Beach.

“They should have a private relationship with a hauler to take away their bulky junk,” Kruea said. “If they don’t, because they’re trying to save a penny here or there, it’s gonna cost them down the road. We will enforce that.”

If the problem stems from issues with a building, owners are taken to property maintenance hearings. If the owner does not show up to the meeting they have 30 days to fix the problem. If a property owner shows up to the meeting and acknowledges the problem, Lee said they can be given extra time to fix any issues.

If the problems are not fixed, owners are taken to city council where Lee gives a presentation showing how the property is a danger to tenets or to the city.

Since mid-January, almost 80 properties have gone to property maintenance hearings.

“It used to happen a lot more but we’re getting fairly good compliance,” Kruea said. “But we send letters to property owners throughout the city. We’ll send three or 400 letters to property owners for everything like your grass is too high to you need to paint that. So we make sure that folks take care of the property according to law.”

Olivieri, who said she’s seen code enforcement patrolling the area near Yaupon Drive, said she’s not sure what people are going to do when the city starts focusing on the street.

“I’d rather see the trash on the side of the road that’s going to be picked up, I know it’s going to be picked up and it’s gonna be gone, than to see motels that seriously need code enforcement more to clean up their property,” she said.

Megan Tomasic, 843-626-0343, @MeganTomasic

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