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Talks in the works to charge for parking at Hilton Head beaches

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 6:59 PM EST
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HILTON HEAD, S.C. (WTOC) - Parking at the beach can be difficult on Tybee Island and Hilton Head Island, but in many places near the South Carolina sand it doesn’t cost anything but time.

If you drive to Coligny Beach on Hilton Head, you know that parking is free. It’s a fight for one of these 400 spots - spots that might not be free for much longer.

“Discussions that are occurring are whether or not we should require beach parking to be paid in all of our beach parking areas,” said Joshua Gruber, Deputy Town Manager of Hilton Head Island.

As Gruber said, they are just discussions for now, but discussions that would have people pay to park here. Some businesses across the street telling me people would then just park in front of their stores instead. Adding to a struggle they’ve had for decades.

“For the last 15 or 20 years we faced the problem of beach parkers,” said David Martin, owner of Piggly Wiggly Coligny Plaza.

So why even talk about taking away free parking. The deputy town manager says they’ve gotten residential feedback, some saying a fee could keep crowds from overwhelming the area.

“We want to be open, we want to be welcoming and inviting, but we want to make sure we manage the crowds that are coming here in a responsible way.”

Those crowds, locals say, often overflow out of beach parking, despite signage trying to keep them away.

“Saturdays and Sundays probably 35 days a year it becomes so overflowed that people park everywhere. Those people arguing with each other, and my parking lot becomes completely full and my customers have no place to park.”

Martin says this problem is complicated, and the proposed fee, which could be up to 4 dollars an hour, isn’t going to fix it. The town says that money would go back into the issue, but reiterate we’re still a ways away from action.

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