By Paul Robinson
It’s an issue that has been bubbling to the political surface of the Isle of Palms for years: how to inform IOP guests of the local laws and do it in a way that still demonstrates the southern hospitality for which South Carolina is known.
At the recent Isle of Palms Council meeting on August 25, Council member s and committee volunteers discussed the verbiage for new rental signage to be placed throughout the Isle of Palms rental units. The signage would do the same as the signs which are currently in place – addressing laws pertaining to courtesy and limitations on occupancy – however, the new format foregoes the former signs’ eight point font and attempts to generalize so that the font is large enough and the message short enough so that it will actually be read by renters. The signs would hopefully make the renters feel welcomed on the island, while at the same time reminding them to respect their neighbors and abide by island laws. Two island residents, Jeff Jacobs and Sandy Stone, recently cooperated with the guidance of the IOP Council to achieve these goals.
Currently, the City of the Isle of Palms mandates that the sign be placed in rental properties, although they have yet to decide on a standard location. However, the finalization and standardization of the new sign is pending approval by the City Council. The current sign design under discussion is available on the web site www.tinyurl.com/iopsigns.
A frustrated fifty year resident of the Isle of Palms, Jimmy Carroll points out that short-term renters and guests will visually see the rental agreement/signage three times before they step foot inside his rental property. “How many times do we have to tell them?” asks Carroll. “The City of Isle of Palms is number one in the tourism industry in South Carolina. We want to welcome short-term renters and vacationers in a fashion that is balanced between the excitement for coming to South Carolina’s premier coast line and abiding by the local rules and regulations.” However, Carroll feels that the rules are enforced a little too harshly on the island; an approach which, to him, is deterring guests rather than inviting them to stay. “Recent guests of my rental property were awakened at 1:15am by the local sheriff’s office and were written a ticket for having too many vehicles on the premises,” says Carroll. “Where do we draw the line of encouraging tourism and harassing our guests? Would it not serve the local sheriff’s department to have more meaningful tickets written such as for speeding and littering?”
When visiting the Isle of Palms, vacationers are surrounded by year-round residents who do not want to hear raging parties at one o’clock in morning, but would still like to keep the popularity of the island and its reputation for hospitality at a maximum. According to local business owner Sandy Stone of Island Reality, “We have close to 100,000 guests visit the IOP every year and roughly 1% of them cause the problems. Noise is an issue and we want guests to feel welcome and to be mindful of others around them. We ask that guests keep it at a dull roar and to be respectful of the surrounding community, but to also feel that visiting IOP was time well spent and to come back and visit our breathtaking coastline.”
When the new signage was brought up during the Council meeting, the Council voted to go into an executive meeting to discuss the wording of a potential resolution. After a twenty five minute discussion, the Council motioned that the “yellow” rental notice sign (the new signs which Jeff Jacobs brought to the Council for review) be placed in a conspicuous location within 15 feet of the rental structure. The resolution was turned down 5 to 4, with Council members Carol Rice, Dee Taylor, Ryan Buckhannon and Martin Bettelli voting against it. The signs will be discussed again during the Short Term Rental meeting, which will take place on September 16 at 5:30pm in Council Chambers.