Beachgoers will have to be more careful when spending time in Surfside Beach if officials approve an ordinance that would place restrictions on the holes people dig in the sand.
With large holes being found along the beach, officials are proposing an ordinance that would make it illegal to dig a hole deeper than two feet. The law would also require people to fill any hole they dig before leaving the beach. If they don’t, violations will be considered a misdemeanor.
“We are working very closely with the chief of police on this so that they (the holes) are covered daily and not at the end of the day,” Mayor Bob Childs said at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting. “We are well aware of the problems.”
Officials believe open holes on the beach presents a safety hazard for visitors, employees, equipment and sea life, including turtles. Residents also believe the open holes cause of liability to the town.
Resident Anousha Shifteh said he brought the matter to the attention of the police department after watching people on the beach digging deep holes day-after-day, describing the depth as a “swimming pool.” He said he issued his complaint because he was worried someone would step in the hole at night and break their neck. While the town eventually filled in the holes using a backhoe, he said nobody has been on the beach providing enforcement.
Resident Patricia Magliette advised officials to swiftly pass the ordinance and better monitor beach activity to ensure nobody falls into a hole resulting in a lawsuit against the town. She also speculated someone could fall in a hole on purpose just to sue the town.
“One of these days somebody is going to fall into one of these holes and there’s going to be a lawsuit for the town,” Magliette said. “It’s bad for the turtles because it just kills them, but it’s bad for the people because somebody could walk in the hole and end up with a broken limb.”
Officials were scheduled to vote on the ordinances first reading on Tuesday but instead agreed to table the vote. Council will reconvene July 22.