Isle of Palms city leaders to find alternatives for public beach parking problem

VIDEO: Isle of Palms city leaders to find alternatives for public beach parking problem

ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCSC) - Isle of Palms city leaders say they will work with the state department of transportation to create more public parking for nonresidents.

The decision came after SCDOT’S Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall sent the mayor and council members a letter about public parking restrictions.

In that letter, Hall said they plan on revoking the city’s beach parking plan which restricts parking access to a lot of people who don’t live on the island.

“I am of the opinion that the 2015 plan has improperly designated a significant number of state-owned highway right of ways as ‘resident only parking’ potentially denying non-residents their constitutional guaranty of equality and privilege,” Hall said in the letter.

City council met on Tuesday for executive session to discuss the issue with legal staff as well as to get advice on a state bill that restricts cities from changing parking rules on state highways without approval from the state transportation department.

If the plan is revoked, that could allow nonresidents to park in more areas across the island.

Michael Barnett, an advocate for free beach parking and unrestricted beach access, said the decision is a huge step in the right direction.

“The constitution in the state of South Carolina protects the beach, it protects the use of the beach by all of the citizens in this state” Barnett said. “It’s a unique protection that a lot of states don’t have, and we have to protect that.”

He is one of many people who have called on beach islands to ease their parking restrictions.

The Charleston Beach Foundation, a group that filed a lawsuit against the city of Isle of Palms over temporary parking restrictions, issued a statement saying they are “thrilled and appreciative of the efforts of SCDOT to take corrective action regarding non-resident parking on the Isle of Palms.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Jimmy Carroll said the city has spent approximately $1.6 million dollars to manage beach parking in accordance with their beach plan.

SCDOT’s request, as stated in the letter, would also include restoring angled parking along the land-side of Palm Boulevard between 22nd and 40th Avenue. There could also be an opportunity to restore public parking along the first block of the avenues that intersect Palm Boulevard.

Hall said she is willing to work with the city and reach a compromise in aspects of the plan.

“It is my sincere desire to work towards a resolution for the public parking issues on the Isle of Palms in order to strike the right balance for the community and Charleston region,” Hall said. “I look forwarding to continuing dialogue with the City and am hopeful that a compromise can be reached that accomplishes the goal.”

You can read SCDOT’S Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall’s letter to the mayor and council below.

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