The city of North Myrtle Beach has officially banned the use of beach tents on its beaches during the summer and officials in Myrtle Beach and Horry County are moving toward ordinances that would follow suit.
Following months of debate and public meetings, North Myrtle Beach city council voted Monday to ban the use of any device to provide shade other than beach umbrellas between May 15 and Sept. 15. The law defines an umbrella as having a collapsible “circular shade no greater than 9 feet in diameter.”
That means large collapsible beach tents — the type seen at football tailgate parties — will no longer be allowed on the beachfront during the height of Myrtle Beach tourism season.
The reasoning behind the ban is because of concerns they can block emergency vehicles from moving along the beach. Law enforcement officers and lifeguards have said the tents block their view of the beach, as well as their paths when emergencies occur on the ocean.
This issue has been discussed among officials in Grand Strand beach communities for the past few years and most recently resurfaced during a June meeting of Myrtle Beach’s Beach Advisory Committee.
Myrtle Beach and Horry County are also in the process of enacting similar rules. In its current form, Horry County’s ordinance would bar the use of the tents year-round.
Myrtle Beach city council voted 5-1 recently to ban the use of beach tents from Memorial Day to Labor Day, while Horry County voted unanimously without any discussion to ban the tents all year.
Myrtle Beach must vote on the measure again and may amend theirs to match the county’s. The county’s rule must survive two more votes before becoming official.
“I do not support this motion and I have not from the beginning,” said councilwoman Susan Grissom Means of Myrtle Beach, the lone dissenting vote. “I just think it’s wrong to say that a family with young children and/or elderly members of the family – or any member for that matter – can’t go to the beach and shield themselves from the sun. … I can’t support this Memorial Day to Labor Day, year round – whatever. I’m against it.”
Under the current laws the size and use of these tents is regulated, however still allows for certain canopy-type tents to be used.
Beachgoers are limited to tents no larger than 12 feet x 12 feet, must have them set up on the land side of the lifeguard’s umbrella line and they must be at least 10 feet away from another tent. Tent users must secure their 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.