RESIDENTS AND CITY MERCHANTS CONCERNED WHEN TOLD PARKING FEES GO TO DRC
When asked, Myrtle Beach City Councilman Randal Wallace said last night to a packed audience of local residents that parking fees go to the DRC [Downtown Redevelopment Corporation.] This was the first public admission by a city of Myrtle Beach elected official that Golden Mile parking fees go to DRC. County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus and City Councilman Randal Wallace addressed a full house of concerned locals at Longbeards Bar & Grill.
Lazarus and Wallace are considered “key insiders” in the relationship between City of Myrtle Beach government, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, the DRC, and two local corporate giants. Larzarus spoke for over 30 minutes covering a wide array of topics. As its past board president, Lazarus defended the actions of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. When asked if he had ever taken money from any of the four Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Political PACs, Lazarus said he could not remember.
Lazarus also stated that beach water quality issues were only around areas that drain from the land to the ocean. The city of Myrtle Beach currently has eight such areas in a 9 mile section of beach.
Members of the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League have stated they believe all oceanfront drainage pipes should be removed from the beachfront immediately. They believe the issue is a public health safety issue. Lazarus, Brad Dean (President of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber), and the Coastal Conservation League have been at odds over the environment for the past decade.
Lazarus did take issues with the city of Myrtle Beach as he stated he felt the current parking fees charged by the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation (City of Myrtle Beach) did in fact constitute commerce. Deed restrictions on beachfront parking restrict the use of the oceanfront beach access for commerce by the DRC (City). City Councilman Wayne Gray stated just last week that he believed the fees were not commerce. Gray, Mayor Rhodes, and Wallace, during a town hall forum, said the fees were like taxes that would be used to maintain beach access areas. These previous comments by Myrtle Beach city leaders were in direct conflict with statements Wallace made last night.
Local merchants and residents who are now aware that parking fees go to DRC, have asked us how city government can believe funding this group is better than putting monies directly in the hands of city merchants. Downtown merchants are unclear what the mission and role of the DRC is? With the exception of two key downtown corporate giants, MyrtleBeachSC.com could find few downtown merchants who support the DRC in any way.
Residents asked us why they should have to fund a group with such an unpopular community standing and such an unclear local city mission. MyrtleBeachSC.com reached out to David Sebock, President of the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation, asking him what his organization plans to do with these funds. Mr. Sebok declined to respond.
Residents have requested that all parking fees be suspended until the city can provide greater transparency on these issues. Residents are asking all fees be suspended until May 2017.
County Councilman Lazarus promised to meet with residents to find a solution with Mayor Rhodes and City Council on the parking fee matter.
Lazarus is considered the insider of insiders. Last February Chairman Lazarus and Mayor John Rhodes spent 10 days in China together. Upon returning the two promised to bring a Chinese Cultural Center into the county. The Chinese investment is said to be over $100 million. Rhodes and Brad Dean met again with Peoples Republic of China leaders in August. They stated that the deal is expected to be finalized this October.