Sullivan’s Island business owners are protesting paid parking proposal

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – Sullivan’s Island businesses are banding together to protest island-wide paid parking, a measure currently being discussed by the island’s town council. Business owners are fearful the outcome could be too much to overcome while working to recover from COVID-19.

Sullivan’s Island was closed to virtually anyone who didn’t live on the island for months because of COVID-19 restrictions, something owners say took a serious toll on the island’s business district. Now with paid parking being discussed, business owners are doing everything they can to push back on the proposal.

“This would really hurt, this would be a double whammy,” says Bill Dunleavy who owns Dunleavy’s Pub. “Now we’re going to throw paid parking on top of people, we want the people to come out to Sullivan’s Island.

Businesses are working to recover after months of shutdowns due to COVID-19, Dunleavy says paid parking would be yet another obstacle for his restaurant.

“It’ll be such a deterrent to our businesses, it’s already hard enough,” says Dunleavy.

Visitors and business are slowly beginning to return to the island but employees are fearful paid parking could be the final straw for the small businesses already struggling to get back on their feet.

“A lot of people are coming in saying this is the first time I’ve shopped in six months or whatever so it puts another hinder on the business itself besides COVID,” says Simms Hindman who works at GOLDBUG on the island.

The group says finding a parking spot on a normal day can a challenge, Hindman believes beach goers could stop coming all together if passed.

“People aren’t going to want to come out here and there’s these large meters everywhere,” says Hindman. “These small businesses run off of people being able to walk out to the beach and then come and get a drink, get a taco.”

On top of the impacts to business, Hindman believes the measures would change the feel of Sullivan’s Island.

“It’s just, it takes away from the charm of the island,” says Hindman. “It’s such a beautiful island.”

Businesses are now taking it upon themselves, speaking out against the measure in hopes of being heard. In a Facebook post by Dunleavy’s Pub, several Sullivan’s Island businesses are pictured hold “No Paid Parking” signs including Dunleavy’s, Mex 1, Home Team Barbecue among others. A group of owners met on Wednesday to discuss concerns and oppositions.

“It was unanimous that we are all totally against paid parking so we’re hoping that town council listens,” says Dunleavy.

Dunleavy says he is now calling on residents of not just Sullivan’s Island but the entire Lowcountry to help grab the attention of town council.

“Email them that you come out here and you love our beaches, you love our restaurants and bars,” says Dunleavy. “That would really help.”

Dunleavy says as of this week’s town council meeting, there are four members in favor of implementing the measures. He says the best thing to do is reach out to council members through the email addresses listed on the Sullivan’s Island town website.

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