Investigation on why tent bans would bring $500 fine in Myrtle B - WBTW-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Florence, SC

Investigation on why tent bans would bring $500 fine in Myrtle Beach

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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) -

A proposed tent ban in Myrtle Beach would bring steeper fines than prostitution charges or a first offense DUI.

The tent ban, which would prohibit beach tents in the city from Memorial Day to Labor Day, has to pass one more reading before it is officially in the books for this upcoming season.

The tent ban would bring upwards of a $500 fine and or 30 days in jail.

A Prostitution charge comes with a $200 fine and for a first offense DUI it costs $400.

Myrtle Beach City Spokesperson, Mark Kruea, says if the ban passes, enforcement would be the last resort.

"The idea with any law is not to have to write tickets you'd rather folks voluntarily obey the rules and certainly the goal here will be to educate people in advance," he said.

Kruea says life guards and law enforcement would warn violators first before any action is taken.

He also says city officials would work to educate visitors before they arrive in town.

Kruea adds if the ban passes and any tickets are issued, the fines would be no steeper than other city violations.

"A noise ordinance violation, littering, there are other rules that are misdemeanors if you violate them and for all of them, the penalty is up to $500 and up 30 days in jail," said Kruea.

News 13 asked Kruea exactly why the penalty is so high for these violations, and if there is anything the city can do about it.

He said misdemeanors, which are how the tent ban would be classified, are regulated by the state.

News 13 reached out to the Horry county solicitor's office and asked why violating a beach tent ban would bring you a higher fine than prostitution.

Scott Hucks, with the solicitor's office, said when the prostitution statutes were created, $200 fines were the maximum.

He says misdemeanor charges have changed, but some fines, like prostitution, remain the same.

News 13 asked Kruea if there would be another way to define beach tent bans other than a misdemeanor.

He said no.

He says actual enforcement of a misdemeanor can vary depending on the judge.

Kruea says the beach tent ban will have final reading at the next council meeting; however he says it is likely the council will amend their ordinance to reflect Horry County's beach tent ban.

The county is looking to prohibit beach tents permanently.

Right now, Myrtle Beach's ban would only be during the summer season.

County Chairman, Mark Lazarus, says he wants to work towards a uniform ordinance along the Grand Strand, to prevent confusion among tourists.

Surfside Beach, which is in Horry County, has not taken any vote on beach tent bans and officials say they have no immediate plans to do so.

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