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Pawleys Island: No parking for largest vehicles

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

At 224.4 inches, a Chevy Suburban will just squeeze under a limit adopted by Pawleys Island Town Council this week on the size of vehicles that can park at most beach accesses. But add a trailer hitch to the Suburban and it may have to park somewhere else. The limit is 19 feet, or 228 inches.

“That gets all regular-size trucks, most vans and SUVs,” Mayor Bill Otis said. “Extended cab pickups won’t fit.”

The limit applies to the marked parking spaces at all beach accesses except the south end parking lot. It was the result of a Planning Commission recommendation that followed months of discussion over the winter about parking and traffic safety on Pawleys Island. The council decided that oversized vehicles block others from getting in and out of the beach accesses at the street ends.

A Ford F-150 with a “SuperCab” can reach over 250 inches in length, and even models with a regular cab can top 230 inches, but the standard version is only 213 inches.

The town gave first reading to the restriction last month, but waited until final reading this week to plug in an actual number. The 19-foot limit was the result of visits by Police Chief Guy Osborne to measure vehicles and the parking spaces at six beach accesses.

Osborne said he based the final figure on the fact that many large vehicles might fit, but not if they have trailer hitches or storage racks on the back.

“I added about 6 inches,” he said. “Most of them have trailer hitches.”

On holiday weekends, every possible parking space on the island is used. The town hit that peak early this year with the late arrival of Easter.

The Planning Commission considered whether allowing cars to park alongside Atlantic Avenue on the island’s north end posed a hazard to pedestrians. It ruled out suggestions to ban roadside parking or to create a pedestrian path along one side of Atlantic.

The town did agree to mark crosswalks at the intersections along Atlantic Avenue to make it safer for people walking to the beach. Council also gave final approval this week to a 20-foot no-parking zone on either side of the crosswalks. That could take away nine parking spaces, Osborne said. Council members hope that the impact on parking can be minimized.

“The crosswalks are a significant improvement,” Otis said.

The town has made other smaller changes at accesses and intersections, such as trimming bushes to improve visibility. “All the things that are being done and will be done can’t help but make things safer,” Otis said.

The town has asked the state Department of Transportation for permission to mark the crosswalks. It expects to receive a permit this week to mark six crosswalks. It plans to have them painted before the Memorial Day weekend.

Although Town Council and the Planning Commission focused most of their attention on Atlantic Avenue, Osborne has said that Myrtle Avenue is his biggest safety concern because of the large number of pedestrians and cyclists who use the road during the summer. The road runs along the marsh and has a narrow right-of-way.

“There’s really not anything you can do about Myrtle Avenue,” Otis said. “The main thing is to manage the speed. That’s been the chief’s driving force for years.”

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