Myrtle Beach is considering updating the surf zones on the north end of the city.
Residents in the Northwoods neighborhood told Myrtle Beach officials they didn’t know they couldn’t surf at the beach near their homes until this summer when a lifeguard stand was added. The lifeguard was enforcing the no-surf zone there.
“Before there was no lifeguard located at 78th or 79th avenues,” City Manager John Pedersen said. “Surfing isn’t allowed in that area but people were surfing there because there was not a constant [lifeguard] presence to enforce that. Residents in that area complained about not being able to surf, so we decided to take a look at it.”
City spokesman Mark Kruea also said that due to the increased number of people using the beach north of 82nd Avenue North, lifeguards have stopped surfers from getting into the water in that area.
“The lifeguards were saying, ‘no you can’t surf here,’ even though it was an area where surfing is allowed because there were too many people in the water,” he said.
Pedersen said city staff studied the current surf zones and determined changes needed to be made.
Myrtle Beach City Council is expected to pass second reading of an ordinance next week that would tweak the areas where surfing is allowed – including adding a surfing zone from 78th Avenue North to 81st Avenue North and restricting it between 82nd and 87th avenues North.
If passed as expected surfing would be allowed all day in the area from 29th Avenue South to the south city limits; from 34th Avenue North to 47th Avenue North; from 62nd to 68th avenues North; the new zone between 78th and 81st avenues North; and from 87th Avenue North to the north city limits.
Pedersen said development between 82nd Avenue North and 87th Avenue North – such as the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort and Spa at Grande Dunes and Grande Dunes – caused city staff to decide to restrict surfing in that area.
All surfing will be allowed at the discretion of beach patrol and lifeguards. Kruea said the city is in talks with the beach franchisees about increasing lifeguards in the part of the city known as the “golden mile,” from 31st Avenue North to 52nd Avenue North.
“Right now there are mobile lifeguards [who patrol the area],” Pedersen said. “More than likely we’ll have more mobile lifeguards. ... Increasing the number of lifeguards means there would be shorter distances they are responsible for.”
Pedersen also said the city is looking at changing signage in that area from “swim at your own risk” to letting people know that there are mobile lifeguards patrolling and include a way to get in contact with them.
Signs and additional lifeguards wouldn’t happen until next season. Changes to surfing zones could go into effect as soon as July 28 if second reading of the ordinance is approved.
Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or on Twitter @TSN_mprabhu.