Panhandlers, Solicitors may need a permit in Myrtle Beach

A proposed law could require anyone in Myrtle Beach who solicits, including panhandlers, to have a permit.

Myrtle Beach City Council is looking at regulating religious solicitation, commercial solicitation, and panhandling on Ocean Boulevard, the beach, and the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

City spokesman Mark Kruea says the proposed law combines codes from many other laws already on the books and adds a few new clauses.

"Begging is allowed. It has not changed in our code at all. That's already there. This does protect against aggressive solicitation, aggressive begging, you can not be accosted by someone who is asking you purely for money," he says.

In addition, to pass out flyers or ask for money in the parts of the city where it is allowed, like parks, people would need a permit. If this passes, a penalty for anyone soliciting or panhandling without a permit would face a misdemeanor charge which carries a $500 fine or 30 days in jail.

"The permit would be free, it's an easy thing to do," Kruea says," It would require a 24 hour period that we could do quick background check so we could see if there are any outstanding warrants."

Changes on the federal level forced the city to make changes as well. Prior to this ordinance, east of Kings Highway, from 13th avenue South to 21st North, was a no solicitation zone. Now they have to allow at least religious solicitation.

"Over time the courts have moved the line, particularly on religious and political solicitation that sort of communication and we needed to update our code and that is really where we started from," Kruea said.

Myrtle Beach's mayor has said the ordinance is to protect the tourists from beggars.

City Council could vote next of the solicitation ordinance on August 28th.