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Pawleys Island: Drivers get imaginative, but parking tickets jump

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Everybody agrees drivers have become more creative in squeezing every inch of legal parking out of Pawleys Island’s roadsides. Last month, one of them pushed the envelope and found it filled with a $55 ticket.

The car was parked in front of a fire hydrant on the north end of Myrtle Avenue. The driver put paper over the vehicle identification number and took off the plates, “figuring they weren’t going to get a ticket,” according to Mayor Bill Otis. “The police department towed it.”

Police rarely tow vehicles, in part because it requires the officer to stay with the vehicle until the tow truck arrives. In this case, they decided it was worth the 45 minute wait. “It was a combination of the safety and the apparent deceit,” Police Chief Mike Fanning said.

Police put a hold on the vehicle after it was towed, which required the driver to pick up his ticket before he paid the towing fee and reclaimed the vehicle. “It cost him $200 and a couple of days of aggravation,” Fanning said.

“They get pretty creative,” he added.

But this summer, few are creative enough. Police on the island wrote 97 parking tickets last month, an increase of 49 percent from 2012. In May, the number of parking tickets more than doubled from the previous year to 87.

The town figures there is room for over 300 vehicles to park on the island, with 80 of those in parking spaces at the south end lot. Fanning said the rise in tickets comes from a combination of more traffic and tougher enforcement.

“It seems that if you let one person slide everybody tries to take advantage of it,” he said.

Fanning credits the cold spring with giving beachgoers “cabin fever,” which led to more people on the island in May. Most of the tickets are written on the island’s north end because that’s where most of the roadside parking is found.

One trouble spot is a fire hydrant on Atlantic Avenue south of First Street. Police often write two or three tickets a day to vehicles that park in front of it. The town has now put up a No Parking sign to better mark the hydrant.

“It’s low to the ground. People think it’s defunct,” Fanning said.

But it is a working hydrant. Just to make sure, Midway Fire and Rescue was on the island this week testing hydrants.

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