DRAIN THE SWASH CAMPAIGN TO LAUNCH 2017
The mood in Myrtle Beach appears to be in sync with national politics as local merchants plan to launch a 2017 “Drain The Swash” campaign.
A group of local merchants states they intend to ensure that the oceanfront is bacteria free for the over 15 million tourists who visit every year. The group also intends on cleaning up the local corruption that centers around a tourism tax, shady international investments, high crime, a heroin epidemic, and small business harassment. These issues center around the relationship between city government and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
Skip Hoagland is a South Carolina leader who supports the group. As an activist, Hoagland has spent hundreds of thousands of his own dollars suing the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber and other S.C. Chambers demanding they open up their books. Earlier this year Skip won an S.C. court ruling demanding the Hilton Head/Bluffton Chamber open up their books to Freedom Of Information requests on how the chamber spends tax dollars. This ruling will require all S.C. Chambers to open their books to the public if the ruling holds up on appeal. Area S.C. Chambers of Commerce joined as one to appeal the court’s finding. Currently, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber gets over $25 million in tax welfare annually.
“Myrtle Beach tourists and Myrtle Beach local residents deserve clean beaches and honest government,” said Hoagland. As a small business owner, issues between the city of Myrtle Beach and Hoagland span almost two decades. “The Myrtle Beach Chamber sued me for my very own property, MyrtleBeach.com, and they lost,” said Hoagland. Hoagland later sold MyrtleBeach.com to Scott Brandon of Brandon Advertising for over $6.5 million.
“These city governments and these local Chambers are all getting in bed with one another picking and choosing which local businesses can and can’t make it in the market,” said Hoagland. “It’s time to drain the swash,” he added.
A swash is an area where water drains from land to the beach to the ocean. The city of Myrtle Beach currently has eight such areas in a 10 mile stretch of the city beach. In 2005, Myrtle Beach City Council was warned that these areas contained high levels of concentrated bacteria that make them unsafe for swimming after rainfalls. The State of South Carolina informed city councilmen that these areas needed to be cleaned up or removed. Permanent warning signs were then put in place. Last July 2016 alone, 63 people reported illnesses that included flu-like symptoms and skin cellulitis from swimming in Myrtle Beach ocean waters.
The S.C. Coastal Conservation League is an S.C. environmental group that works to protect “quality of life” issues for locals and tourists. The group encourages wise and responsible land use and development.
“Anytime we are experiencing elevated levels of bacteria in our waters, there is a major environmental and public health concern,” says Emily Cedzo of the Coastal Conservation League. “The City has made some effort to address this in the past, but we hope to see this issue become a priority moving forward.” The League is interested in working with the City of Myrtle Beach to find a solution that everyone can benefit from.
Current elected city leadership has been in office for over a combined 123 years. All in office are fully aware of the beach bacteria problem. No public, long-term plan has ever been laid out by the city government.
SMALL BUSINESSES HARASSED
Small business owners say they feel harassed by the city, claiming the city is working with large Chamber of Commerce partners in passing extraordinary laws to shut those businesses down.
Business Owner’s License Suspended By City
MyrtleBeachSC.com reported about one business owner, who owns Natalia’s in the downtown Superblock area last week. Ms. Natalie Litsey, the owner of the Bar & Grill, said, “If they are trying to sell this area, then I expect the city to be upfront and give us what our businesses are worth and let us move. Not let the city find ways around false accusations and [then] close us down.” The City of Myrtle Beach has suspended Natalias business license. Ms. Litsey plans to appeal this suspension.
“It’s time to end this harassment of small business owners by the city government. It’s time to protect the safety and welfare of 15 million tourists. It’s time to end crony capitalism brought upon us by a heavy handed bunch of Democrats running as Republicans every four years. It’s time to lower Myrtle Beach’s high crime rate and the widespread heroin epidemic that has taken as many as 20 lives locally each month in 2016. It’s time to see Myrtle Beach grow into its true potential. It’s time to drain the swash,” said Hoagland.
Myrtle Beach is a city of mostly Republican-minded resident retirees. South Carolina is considered a very Republican state, however, merchants tell MyrtleBeachSC.com that most locally elected city, county and, S.C. politicians operate more like big government Democrats than small government Republicans. Unlike their Democrat colleagues, however, these officials tend to ignore obvious long term environmental concerns that negatively impact the area’s $3 billion tourism industry.
Local polls show that Myrtle Beach residents care about clean beaches and quality of life issues