This weekend is the unofficial start to the beach season, so you know what that means.
Yep, folks on the Isle of Palms are going to be griping about parking.
Last week, islanders visited IOP City Council to lodge their annual complaint about daytrippers who descend on their homes like a swarm of locusts, only more destructive.
It’s the same thing every year — people often park in their yards, use their hoses to rinse off and leave trash lying around like the riffraff that some of residents clearly think they are.
On the one hand, these complaints can grate on people who aren’t fortunate to live on the front beach, or even a couple of blocks away.
But before you go dismissing their concerns as the problems of the rich, keep this in mind:
They have a point.
The Isle of Palms is a big draw around here.
Every July, more than a million cars go on and off the island. There are only 4,000 residents, so that means most of these folks are visitors.
Aside from the thousands of folks who rent the 10-bedroom monster homes, the island gets plenty of plain ol’ daytrippers. They come in from Mount Pleasant, Summerville, Berkeley County — even Columbia.
Now, the city would like for most of those people to park in the commercial district, where there are shops and bathrooms. But the beach stretches for miles, and many of those people want to spread out. It’s hard to blame them.
So they park along Palm Boulevard and use the various access paths to get to a little less-crowded beach.
And that’s the problem.
A good number of these IOP visitors don’t seem to know how to park and sometimes end up in people’s yards, or even their driveways.
They traipse into private yards and leave behind trash like it’s a landfill.
It doesn’t matter where you live; no one wants to see that.
Tan, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.
Like a good neighbor?
Every year, the city grapples with this issue.
A few years ago they started painting a chalk line down Palm Boulevard, to direct folks to park four feet off the pavement. It’s worked well. They’ve put up some no-parking signs to improve line-of-sight for people pulling out of side streets.
This year they are sticking up signs directing people to the parking lots in the commercial district, in hopes they will discourage some folks from parking in yards.
Good luck with that.
IOP Mayor Dick Cronin says it’s a lingering problem, one the city never can seem to solve.
“Obviously a lot of people want to go to the beach,” Cronin says. “I would think offering restrooms would be popular for folks. But they like to spread out. That would be no problem if people respected the beach.”
And that’s the heart of this issue. Yes, the beach is public property and it belongs to every South Carolinian. Use it in good health — it’s yours.
But on the way to your own personal beachfront property, don’t trash someone else’s.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.