MYRTLE BEACH - Bring your beach umbrella if you plan to visit Myrtle Beach this summer. You won't be able to use a beach tent.
Myrtle Beach City Council on Tuesday banned large beach tents between Memorial Day and Labor Day. A similar ordinance was approved in North Myrtle Beach last week.
Officials say beaches have become so jammed with large tents that it makes it difficult for emergency vehicles to move along beach.
Councilwoman Susan Grissom Means was the only one voting against the Myrtle Beach ban. She said the city should allow small tents to shade babies and toddlers.
"I'm against this ordinance," Means said "I think it's wrong to tell people that they can't (have) a way to shade their babies and the elderly from the sun."
City Manager Tom Leath encouraged council members to make an allowance for the smaller tents for toddlers and babies.
"We need to focus on what exactly we want to ban during the summertime," he said. "Do we really want to tell the mamas they can't have their little baby shaded?"
The North Myrtle Beach ordinance bans the use of any device to provide shade other than beach umbrellas between May 15 and Sept. 15. Umbrellas can have a diameter of no more than 9 feet.
Myrtle Beach council members said they wanted to remain consistent with other municipalities in allowing only beach umbrellas on the beach.
The issue of beach tents has been discussed in recent months in communities along the Grand Strand, the 60 miles of beaches between Georgetown and the North Carolina state line that is the heart of the state's $18 billion tourism industry.
Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea says the problem is relatively new.
"People are very much attached to their tents," he said. "But again, the tents have only grown in popularity over the last five, six, 10 years or so, so you went to the beach a long time before the tents existed too."
The tent debate has not trickled down to the Charleston area. Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin said he has seen "a good many tents, but they seem to be more scattered about than they probably are in Myrtle Beach. They're not clumped in places."
"The only thing we do is we make sure that everybody knows they have to take everything off the beach at the end of the day," he added.
Isle of Palms Police Chief Thomas Buckannon said his city's ordinance also requires that any beach tents be removed at the end of the day, partly to help sea turtles nest.
"I know at certain times, and this is true with people, too, the tents can present problems accessing the beach," he said. "We haven't had a particular problem with them, other than when it gets really busy out there or at a particularly high tide."
Buckannon said the city hasn't discussed a ban like the one being considered in Myrtle Beach, "but who knows what the future may bring?"
Vacationers enjoy themselves on the beach in Myrtle Beach in this May 2013 photo. Myrtle Beach City Council on Tuesday banned beach tents from the shore between Memorial Day and Labor Day, allowing only beach umbrellas instead.×
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