FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCSC) - Leaders on Folly Beach say they’re hoping new parking restrictions and increased fines for violations will deter large groups on the island during the pandemic.
“I think it’s going to be interesting how it turns out but, you know, if you don’t have a place to park and you know that ahead of time, it should control the crowds pretty much,” Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin said. “And we will be in forcing traffic violations and we will be in forcing parking violations.”
City council members passed an amended ordinance Thursday afternoon. Now, beachgoers visiting the island can only park in any areas specifically designated as paid parking. That means no parking along back streets or in neighborhoods to gain beach access.
The only cars allowed in city public right of way areas are residents, those with disability decals, or renters who are in spots adjacent to their rented property.
The city is also increasing the fine for parking illegally to $150 per violation.
The ordinance still allows people to park on Arctic Avenue at any time, as well as along the commercial zone, center street from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. to allow access to restaurants.
Goodwin said the city wants to do it’s part in slowing the spread of the coronavirus on South Carolina beaches.
"We are doing this locally to help stop it in the Charleston area, or slow down in the Charleston area but hopefully some other folks will take notice and maybe try to do some of the same things," Goodwin said.
Goodwin also says he wants to make it clear to owners of private, paid parking lots, that price gauging during this time will not be allowed.
"They raise their rates often on the whole season and throughout the year but they were up around $50 a day," Goodwin said. "Us creating an ordinance should not be an opportunity for you to price gouge other folks."
During the emergency meeting, council struck down a proposal to prohibit coolers, chair and shade devices on the beach. Sullivan's Island currently has those restrictions on their beach.
The parking change echoes a similar decision on the Isle of Palms Wednesday to reduce parking lots to half capacity to control crowds.
Goodwin said the council is open to looking at any further measures they may have to take if cases continue to rise.
“This isn’t the end,” Goodwin said. “This is just an intermediate step and we’ll see how well this works or if it doesn’t work, we can always come back and make more amendments or do whatever we need to do.”
The extended ordinance lasts until Sept. 14