Mount Pleasant leaders discuss support of statewide beach parking bill

VIDEO: Mt. Pleasant leaders on state beach access bill

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - Leaders in Mount Pleasant say they want to do everything they can to support a state-wide bill that could make parking on public roads along beaches free.

This year, the state senate will look at a bill introduced by Senator Larry Grooms. It’s designed to limit how cities and towns put restrictions in place as well as make parking free along state-owned highways and right of ways on barrier islands.

Tuesday, Mount Pleasant town council will be voting on a resolution to officially support this effort.

“We do not meddle in other municipalities municipal laws but this is a state law and this affects all of our citizens,” Mayor Will Haynie said. “We feel like it’s important to settle this issue of who those beaches belong to and what reasonable access actually looks like.”

Many Lowcountry islands like Isle of Palms and Folly Beach have already implemented paid parking. While Sullivan’s Island is considering paid parking island-wide to offset increasing costs of beach maintenance, many business owners and Mount Pleasant residents have opposed the idea.

“I understand about parking, and trash and public safety and all of those things and I’m not saying that those municipality should pay the price for the growth of the rest of the Lowcountry,” Haynie said.

The push for beach access ramped up during the summer when entire islands were barricaded to limit the amount of people on the beach during the pandemic.

“But we really need to make sure that this kind of stuff doesn’t happen again,” Mount Pleasant councilmember Gary Santos said. “We are all one big family and most of us who have been born and raised here know everybody else on the other islands and they feel the same way.”

Despite it currently being an off-season for beachgoers, Santos said he is glad the town is keeping beach access at top of mind long before the summer rush.

“I never thought we would have to do this,” Santos said. “I’m born and raised here and I’ve been going there all my life and it’s a shame that it’s needed. But it is needed and our citizens have come out in full force and supported us trying to do something.”

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