FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCSC) – Some Folly Beach residents are frustrated by the lack of noise ordinance enforcement for short-term rentals on the island.
Data from the city shows that officers are much more likely to give out warnings for noise complaints rather than actual citations.
Of the nearly 50 noise strikes documented in 2023, only eight ended in a citation, and of those citations, only half resulted in a strike.
“We are left to wonder what is actually being done once we file a complaint,” Folly Beach resident Alison McNatt says.
For a short-term rental to lose its license it must receive three strikes in one year. Properties will receive a strike if their guest is convicted of a citation, according to the City’s Administrator, Aaron Pope.
It’s up to the individual officer to decide whether to issue a warning or citation, Chief Andrew Gilreath, Folly’s Director of Public Safety, says.
“The person that lives there full time might deal with this multiple times over a period of time, but what they need to understand too is, from the officers’ standpoint or the person who’s staying there, they might never have had an interaction with us, so why should they not get the chance to get a warning first?” Gilreath says.
The contention between residents and the city boils down to a lack of communication, Folly’s former Mayor, Richard Beck, says.
“If an officer comes out and doesn’t adjudicate it like the person who complained thinks it ought to be, then there ought to be communication between the police department and the homeowner so both of them understand exactly what happened,” Beck says.
McNatt agrees, suggesting a website for residents to be able to track warnings versus citations for nearby short-term rentals and keep property management apprised of what’s going on at their property.
“Without there being communication between residents and law enforcement and STR enforcement,” McNatt says, “There is no transparency available for us.”
Gilreath encourages community members to ask officers to follow up with them, although he says it’s not standard procedure.
The city has also recently launched a website for residents to report issues with short-term rentals anonymously. Click here for more details.
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