ISLE OF PALMS, SC (WCSC) - If you're planning on visiting Isle of Palms, certain parking rules are changing.
It's the second year of the Beach Season Parking Management Plan, which began Monday and is a way to make sure parking doesn't get out of control for tourist season.
There are about 4,000 residents who live in Isle of Palms. On a good summer weekend, however, there can be as many as 30,000 people on the island.
"There's usually adequate parking on the island. It just may not be where you want to park or where you thought you could park because it's limited and there are other people in front of you," Isle of Palms Mayor Dick Cronin said.
A reason the parking plan was enacted. Parking along the public rights-of-way is regulated from May 15 through September 15 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Providing safe and accessible beach parking for both residents and visitors is a top priority.
After many public input sessions and numerous working sessions between Council, City staff and traffic engineers, the beach parking management plan was set into motion in 2016.
At the end of the inaugural year, City Council held a Public Input Session for citizens to share comments, concerns and suggestions on the beach parking management plan.
"The feedback we received from residents was overwhelmingly positive. In general, residents agreed that the beach parking plan had improved their quality of life during the busy summer months. Most of the improvements and changes made to the plan came from residents' comments and suggestions at this meeting," Cronin said.
Under the changes, parking in the designated Residential Parking Districts is limited to vehicles displaying a Resident Parking Permit or Special Permit. Residents owners and renters may apply online for a residential parking permit or stop by the Public Safety Building, located at 30 J.C. Long Boulevard to submit their application.
Beach access parking remains available in the designated Beach Parking Zones, which are properly identified with signs.
"Although no permit or parking fee is required to park on the public right-of-way in the Beach Parking Zones, vehicles must obey state and local parking regulations," Cronin said.
These regulations include not blocking a driveway, not parking too close to an intersection or a fire hydrant, not parking on a sidewalk or unauthorized use of handicap parking.
There is also a "No Parking" zone on both sides of Palm Boulevard between 40th and 41st Avenues. These are areas where beach visitors have parked in the past so the City wishes to alert visitors that because of the proximity of the curve on Palm and 41st, this area has been made no parking both sides of street.
Also, the City has now included Waterway Boulevard and the residential area on 41st Avenue in the Residential Parking District.
Therefore, motorists who have traditionally parked in the area near the marina should be mindful that parking in these two areas is limited to those with properly-credentialed vehicles.
In response to residents' concerns, the city approved the issuance of one free Visitor Parking Permit booklet for each residence per request. City Council also reduced the fine for all metered parking violations. If you park illegally (where a residential permit sign is required, but don't have one) your ticket will be $50. If you violate time on a meter, that ticket is $25.
In reference to parking apps, Cronin said that's something they considered a couple of years ago before they implemented the parking plan.
"The problem is we are a weekend business only for heavy volume," Cronin said." And those apps basically require seven days a week of activity to justify the cost of implementation of the software. I haven't given up on the thought – but it has to become more economical before we can do as such."
You can visit the City's website at www.iop.net for more detailed information on the 2017 Beach Season Parking, to learn where you can legally park when coming to the beach and to apply for a Resident Parking Permit.