MYRTLE BEACH — Beach tents might have raised their last hurrah along the Grand Strand, now that members of the Coastal Alliance have agreed to seek bans on them from their respective councils.
“If we do it all together, then I think the reception will be there because of the safety issue,” said Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes, chairman of the alliance, which includes representatives from coastal cities and counties. The alliance can agree in principle, but the governing bodies in each area must approve any changes to the existing tent rules.
The first test of the resolve to ban the tents will come when the North Myrtle Beach City Council meets Monday night. A proposed ban already has been presented to the council there, and members took no action pending a recommendation from the alliance.
Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus said other alliance members will be watching the vote closely.
“We’re going to kind of follow North Myrtle Beach,” Lazarus said.
The potential ban is the latest strategy officials have come up with in recent years to handle the growing use of tents on Grand Strand beaches, which they say can get in the way of emergency personnel. Tent users say they need the shade during their daylong trips to the beach.
Under current laws along the Grand Strand, beach-goers can’t use tents larger than 12 feet by 12 feet, must set them up on the land side of the lifeguard’s umbrella line and be at least 10 feet away from another tent. Tent users must secure the tents with lines that don’t stick out from the tent’s borders. Tents can’t go up before 8 a.m. and must be down by 7 p.m.
Lifeguards have said they spent a lot of time explaining the rules to the new rounds of tourists each week during the summer.
Lazarus said he will propose an ordinance that will mirror what North Myrtle Beach considers and present it to County Council members at a workshop in two weeks.
The main problem he sees is one of access to the beach by public safety officials.
At high tide, Lazarus said, there might be only six feet to eight feet of beach above water, and tents create an impassable blockade if someone needs emergency assistance.
There already are so many beach tents that county officials are spending more time dealing with the problems they cause instead of other things they should be doing, he said.
The problem goes beyond public safety, Rhodes said.
Some people set up charcoal grills at their beach tents, he said, and there have even been reports of people dragging hoses from campgrounds to their beach tents to fill up child swimming pools on the beach.
It’s increasingly common for vacationers to set up tents as soon as they are legally allowed after they arrive, Lazarus said, and they won’t take them down for their entire visit. More than a few leave them on the beach when they go home.
“It’s getting worse,” he said.