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SC beach parking passes second reading, final vote left

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 2:24 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A South Carolina bill that would ensure access to free parking in beach towns is one step closer to reality.

Sen. Larry Grooms’ bill, S.40, passed second reading with a 102-10 vote, in the House of Representatives. The bill would allow some paid parking, while making it clear that beach towns will still need to provide free parking to visitors.

Any changes to parking plans would need to be approved by the state transportation department.

“The people of this state can rest assured that the public beaches will remain open, that there will be access via parking,” Grooms said. “Having prohibitional parking is indirectly blocking access to the beach. And one thing living in the Lowcountry, we love our beaches, so this bill will ensure that the public will continue having access of to our beaches.”

Several municipalities around beach communities have expressed support over the bill, but some lawmakers have concerns.

Rep. Joe Bustos, R-Charleston County, spoke out against passing the bill the way it’s currently written.

“This bill is not ready to be voted on, it’s confusing and I think all the things that are in here are open to interpretation. I think we should adjourn debate on this until we have all the answers that are solid,” Bustos said during the House session.

A spokesperson for the Barrier Island Preservation Alliance, has called the decision disappointing.

“We are disappointed to see legislation passing that undermines our local experts and officials, as South Carolina has deemed them to be the most qualified to make parking plans for their municipalities under the guidance of home rule,” officials with the alliance group said. “Regardless of new legislation, our organization will continue to seek ways to make the island more accessible to all, while maintaining a safe and desirable visitor experience.”

The bill will have its third and final reading on Thursday.

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