Residents fume over Myrtle Beach parking changes

"Golden Mile" residents ask city leaders to protect neighborhood from strangers

After hours of contentious debate and months of meetings with residents complaining of parking congestion that hampered safety along the north end of Ocean Boulevard, city leaders adopted a plan to limit parking. But many avenue residents weren't
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After hours of contentious debate and months of meetings with residents complaining of parking congestion that hampered safety along the north end of Ocean Boulevard, city leaders adopted a plan to limit parking. But many avenue residents weren't

People are mad about a new parking plan that will soon strip the last free oceanfront parking from Myrtle Beach.

Instead of free spaces at beach accesses along Ocean Boulevard north of 31st Avenue North, out-of-town guests will have to pay $4 an hour or $20 a day to park.

“Four dollars an hour? I don’t think people are going to agree with that at all,” said Judy Curcio at the beach Wednesday afternoon.

“That’s outrageous,” added her friend, April Daberkoe. “There’s other places to go so we’ll just go to Garden City. That’s where we’ll move to.”

The Conway resident said she has always liked coming to the beach along a mostly residential section of the boulevard dubbed “The Golden Mile.”

“It is less crowded and it’s better out here, but it’s also because it’s free too,” she said. “But once it costs money, nah.”

And some of the neighbors, who had asked the city to do something to help curb the influx of cars that clogged their area each summer, aren’t too happy with the city’s recent parking solution either.

Kevin Cribb, who resides in “The Golden Mile’s” only historically-designated home on 38th Avenue North, said his street is already tight. If parking is allowed, he said, it’ll be “chaos on that street” where the Coast RTA buses now run on a new route.

Residents along the avenues leading to Ocean Boulevard were hoping to avoid an influx of cars they envisioned would move to their streets once parking on the boulevard was limited to one side of the roadway.

“I have had my house broken into … in broad daylight,” Rebecca McMillan, a resident of 44th Avenue North, told city leaders Tuesday. “I’ve had things stolen off my back porch. … If we have people parking right in our yards, they can just check us out.”

Under a new parking ordinance, city residents with parking decals will be allowed to continue to park in the rights-of-way along the avenues, but on-street parking will be prohibited for anyone living outside the city.

“Just because you’re a city resident, doesn’t mean you’re a good guy,” McMillan told the Myrtle Beach City Council. “We just want to feel safe.”

In a 4-3 vote Tuesday, Myrtle Beach City Council approved a plan to limit parking to the east side only of Ocean Boulevard and open only to city residents with parking decals. Parking in the street-ends and beach accesses, which are currently free in the area, will be pay-by-phone spaces that fetch double the amount of center city spots at $4 an hour and $20 a day.

“I think that’s crazy,” said Brianna Morvillo of Conway as she got ready to leave the 48th Avenue public beach access Wednesday.

She and her friend Megan Clements, also of Conway, come out to “The Golden Mile” accesses because the spots are free “and it’s the closest parking spot to the beach,” Morvillo said.

But like Daberkoe and Curcio, the change in parking fees will lead them elsewhere.

“I’m not going to pay $4 an hour,” Morvillo said.

Under the new ordinance, Beach Drive will be off-limits to right-of-way parking and its few marked spaces will be open to city residents with parking decals only.

Wait until the tourists find out!

Jeanne Degrazio, a resident who lives in an unincorporated area of Myrtle Beach

Right-of-way parking will be allowed along the avenues from 31st Avenue North to 82nd Avenue North, but only to city residents with parking decals. A neighborhood parking plan set to be established later this year may further restrict parking along the avenues between 31st Avenue North to 52nd Avenue North, leaving on-street parking open only to avenue residents and their guests.

“Wait until the tourists find out!” said Jeanne Degrazio, who lives in an unincorporated area of Myrtle Beach. She was soaking up the sun on the sand with her husband and friends, but their normal beach outing was heated with conversation on the new parking changes. “The county residents are the ones that are getting screwed!”

Although the Degrazios have a Myrtle Beach address, they don’t pay city taxes and are denied access to a parking decal that would let them park anywhere in the city for free. A new parking permit program for out-of-city residents will be voted on in an upcoming council meeting.

Under the proposed program, outside residents could register a vehicle for a seasonal parking decal at the cost of $100. With the decal, Myrtle Beach’s neighbors could park free in the Buchanan lot at Second Avenue North or at a lot at 16th Avenue North, but not for free along Ocean Boulevard or at the beach accesses north of 31st Avenue North.

“You’re going to have an empty beach,” said Frank Degrazio.

Under the adopted ordinance, avenue residents will be given six placards to use for on-street parking along the avenues for family members and guests. An earlier provision that would have required cars to park at least 20 feet from any driveway or curb cut was eliminated from the final ordinance Tuesday.

Emily Weaver: 843-444-1722, @TSNEmily