IOP addressing parking headache

This is a typical summer-day scene on the Isle of Palms — vehicles parked on both sides of 3rd Avenue between Carolina Boulevard and Ocean Boulevard.

ISLE OF PALMS — Palm Boulevard resident Wilcox Kirby hates summer because beach daytrippers park in her driveway and block her from going places.

“They just park anywhere. They don’t care,” she said.

Standing on her porch, Kirby recounted the trials of the previous season. She said beach visitors hit her mailbox four times last summer and parked in front of a fire hydrant.

“Something needs to be done. It’s a nightmare in the summer,” she said.

On Tuesday night, City Council heard from other residents who raised similar concerns regarding the perennial issue of what to do about visitor parking on neighborhood streets.

“We live here. The citizens come first,” said Clay Cable.

Council approved spending about $15,000 for 19 signs to steer visitors to the city pay parking lot in the commercial district. A consultant presented other ideas, such as a low-frequency radio station with island visitor news, including where to park.

The city offers a $45 season pass for parking at a lot in the commercial district. Daily parking is available for $7 in the business area. But rather than cough up a fee, people flock to Palm Boulevard to park for free along the road shoulder.

Boulevard residents complain that visitors use their property to hose off, dump trash and change clothes.

“It’s like a tribe of them. They don’t care where they park,” Kirby said.

Last year the city Planning Commission unanimously recommended a limited number of $65 passes for on-street parking in residential areas from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from March through September. Council has yet to act on that proposal.

The next step in the long-standing search for a solution to ease the tension between visitors and residents is a meeting between city officials and the state Department of Transportation, said Mayor Dick Cronin.

If the DOT allows it, the city could close one or more residential streets to beach-visitor parking, he said, but there is no immediate plan to do that, Cronin said.

“I don’t think we’d ever take over Palm Boulevard,” he said.