SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Surfside Beach Town Council voted to repeal its beach tent ban on Tuesday night but also voted on a new plan which calls for several specific exceptions.
Most council members called the amended ordinance a “compromise” between people who want tents back on the beach and people who want them banned altogether.
Council members unanimously passed the first reading of the ordinance which would allow tents no larger than 10′ x 10′ to be placed in a straight line eight feet from the sand dunes. This would allow an eight-foot-wide lane for emergency vehicles to pass through.
Each tent would also have to be at least six feet from the next to allow for emergency vehicles to drive through if necessary. Tents would also need to be held down with only straight tie-downs.
Emergency access locations and areas around the pier would require additional clearance guidelines.
“I’d like to see you rescind this ban,” said Bill Kinken before the vote was taken. “There is significant beach both for umbrellas and canopies and [they] have not been a hazard in the past.”
However, other residents disagreed.
“Who do some of you people think you are?” Tom Dodge asked the council. “Horry County, North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach all voted to ban tents. Our police chief, our fire chief, the head of our town beach services, all said ‘do not allow tents.’ Yet some of you think you are smarter than all of these people.”
Surfside Beach Police Chief Kenneth Hofmann said he thinks the beach was safer without tents but said we would rather see this compromise than the full ban being repealed.
“I think that benefits everyone and this seems to be a really reasonable compromise,” said Hofmann. “While nobody’s going to be thrilled, everyone can be somewhat eased by the results.”
Councilman Tim Courtney introduced the amendment and said he wants to be fair across the board. He said the town had families and people in wheelchairs who cannot get enough shade with umbrellas.
In April, council voted to only allow baby tents and small umbrellas on the beach.The ban immediately went into effect from 8th Avenue South to the southern end of town. However, the full length of the beach would have to be void of tents starting in January.
The amended ordinance needs one more reading to pass.