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Parking: County expands ticket options to curb towing

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

When vehicles are parked unlawfully along roadways under county jurisdiction, the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office has two options: ignore it or have it towed.

An ordinance set to go before County Council for review next month will offer a third option. It will allow citations to be issued for parking violations, said County Council Member Jerry Oakley. Only in extenuating circumstances or if the vehicle owner has multiple unpaid fines would a vehicle be towed under the new ordinance.

“It’s an effort to address and provide some remedy to a long-standing problem,” he said — a problem seen primarily on the Waccamaw Neck near the beaches.

Allowing citations for violators seems a reasonable solution to him, he added.

When vehicles are towed, it creates problems on both ends. The sheriff’s office has to tie up a deputy with waiting at the site until a tow truck arrives and the vehicle is removed. The vehicle owner is left with a lot of inconvenience and a big expense.

A citation is a more reasonable approach that’s easier on both ends.

The request for the change was made by the sheriff’s office based on an abundance of parking issues seen year after year, particularly during the summer months.

The county attorney and sheriff’s office “receive numerous phone calls and complaints regarding the negative impact and treatment associated with towing of vehicles that are illegally parked along streets and highways,” according to county staff. One of those complaints resulted in a lawsuit against a towing company and the county.

The ordinance would be in effect countywide, with the exclusion of incorporated areas, such as the town of Pawleys Island and the city of Georgetown. But parking problems mainly seem to exist near beaches.

“There’s such a limited availability of parking for folks who want to access the beach,” Oakley said. There are also many situations where residences don’t have adequate parking, so they use off-street parking.

“It’s a problem you have anywhere you have oceanfront,” he said.

He frequently gets calls about parking problems along Waccamaw Drive at Garden City Beach, and parts of Litchfield and North Litchfield.

Details regarding the process, fines and appeals for citations haven’t been outlined yet, but will be included when text for the ordinance is submitted for council’s review.

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