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Message From The Mayor Of Sullivan’s Island: May 2016

Dear Island Neighbors,

Pat Oneil

Pat Oneil

I hope you are enjoying the lovely Spring. Of course our thoughts run quickly to beach season, which seems to begin earlier each year and is already upon us. We have more and more Tri-County neighbors each year who, like us, appreciate the Island, and it’s difficult for them (and us) to resist the call to get out and enjoy it.

And as you may have noticed, the Island’s inhabitable land area has not grown noticeably. So we will continue to have density, parking and traffic issues, especially on the weekends.

In recent conversations with several longtime Island residents, I’m reminded that this is not a new situation, especially the traffic part. Our beaches and streets have always been public, and attractive to visitors. Recall that before 1993, when the Isle of Palms Connector opened to traffic, all traffic bound for the Isle of Palms came through Sullivan’s Island via the causeway and the old Ben Sawyer Bridge! But what are our plans for 2016?


We have submitted a parking plan to the SC DOT which would restrict parking on all island streets to only one side of the street.

Some Q’s & A’s about this plan

Will this reduce the number of cars that now come here for beach visits?

No. We will reduce the number of potential parking places island-wide from approximately 4,700 to 2,850, but that smaller number is still more than the number of cars we currently have parked here even on busy weekends. Our plan limits the number of currently unused parking spaces that could be occupied, to place a cap on our potential temporary (weekend) occupancy.

So what’s the point?

Public safety. We must look toward the future, and expected continued growth. Our public safety forces can only protect so many people at any one time.

Further, parking will be better organized with better-protected passageways in the road for emergency vehicles. Every year we have examples of how seconds truly mean the difference between someone living or dying. We will require that all vehicles have all four wheels off the asphalt, to ensure a safe passage for emergency vehicles and room for pedestrians to get out the way for them.

Will we have resident-only parking districts?

That is not part of the current plan.

How will this plan be implemented?

We have retained a contractor to plan the location of all necessary signs for the proposed plan, and to install them. This will include removal of many existing signs at the same time. We need to balance the goal of minimal visual clutter with the necessity of clear signaling of parking regulations to support enforcement. Our parking tickets need to stick…not just to the windshield but in court.

When does all this happen?

Once we get approval from SC DOT, Council will revise our ordinance provisions regarding parking, but we expect the sign installation/removal to be ready to begin as soon as that is done. Short answer: Hopefully late June.

Is this plan final and unchangeable?

No. One virtue of this plan is that, while planting and unplanting parking signs is not cost-free, limited changes can be done rather easily to accommodate what we learn from experience.

Is this all just a reaction to Isle of Palms parking changes?

No. We have been studying our options for a number of years, focusing on addressing Sullivan’s Island needs, while remaining mindful of the potential impact of our neighbor island’s parking changes on Sullivan’s Island. We started studying our parking situation in 2007!

What about enforcement?

This year we have four seasonal beach safety officers, twice as many as in previous years. This will allow us to detail one to beach patrol and one to parking enforcement during any one shift.

If you wish to report parking violations, dog violations, illegal but non-threatening behaviors or other non-emergency problems, please call the non-emergency police number: (843) 743-7200, which is now staffed by Charleston County. Please do NOT call 911 for such matters. Please put this non-emergency number in your cell phone contacts list! (843) 743-7200


1. Hurricane Season: If you and your family don’t have a plan, make one now!

2. Floppin’ Flounder 5K Run: The 25th running (ok, for some of us, slogging) of this event will be on Saturday June 4, 2016, at 8 a.m. Go to for more info and to register.

3. SI Fire & Rescue Fish Fry is Saturday, June 25, 2016 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Fish Fry Shack/Big Tin.

4. Independence Day Weekend: Heads-up for a big change this year: With growing demand for Independence Day professional fireworks shows across the country, prices for these displays on July 4th have skyrocketed, way beyond our budget. Rather than let our treasured tradition fizzle, this year our Park event with band and evening fireworks show will take place on Saturday, July 2, when we can get a better deal on the pyrotechnics. But rest assured, our traditional golf cart parade will still roll out from the school on the morning of the actual Independence Day, Monday July 4. One upside of our situation this year is that we get to spread the fun out more! More details later.


What’s up with all the Detour signs and torn-up streets? You may or may not know that our stormwater drainage system is the property of the SC DOT, not the Town. However, with the able diplomacy of Town Administrator Andy Benke, we have been able to undertake several improvements designed to address localized stormwater needs with non-Town funds. More details next month.

See you around the Island!

Mayor Pat O’Neil

843 670 9266

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