Sunset Beach expected to ban commercial cabanas

Sunset Beach expected to ban commercial cabanas

SUNSET BEACH, NC (WECT) - The Sunset Beach Town Council voted to draft an ordinance banning commercial cabanas on the beach and one councilman expects the official ban will be put in place at the next meeting.

If the ordinance passes, private individuals can still bring their own cabanas on the beach. Beachgoers would not be allowed to rent a cabana and have a company put one up for them.

"If they had waited until after the season, say September or October to enact this ban, there would be no issues with myself or probably any other vendors," Kevin Godwin, owner of Sandlappers and Cabana Anna, said. "There's going to be a lot of refund checks being written back out."

Godwin explained people buy his cabanas for the convenience and a way to avoid work on the beach.

"We do have a lot of elderly people and how are you going to ask a 60- or 70-year-old couple to carry one of these 45-pound tents, set it up in the morning and bring it back that evening?" Godwin said.

Councilman Mark Benton said he's in favor of banning commercial cabanas and realizes the town attracts elderly people who may not be able to carry the cabanas.

"There's ways to get people to put the cabana up for people who can't do it. This town is packed on the weekends," Benton said. "Hire a kid to put it up."

Several people said they have vacationed in Sunset Beach for years and may not come back if the ban is put in place.

"Phone calls are already starting to come in because I have mass marketed to my customers to make them aware," Godwin said. "There will be a lot of people who will not come back to Sunset Beach next year just because of the canopy."

In 2016, Sunset Beach banned cabanas entirely but reversed course and lifted the ban less than a month later.

Benton was one of the three members who voted to write an ordinance banning commercial cabanas Monday. He said that too often cabanas are left behind on the beach and this ban could cut down on the litter.

A report from the public works department revealed 85 percent of the cabanas left behind are privately owned. In a response to that report, Benton said sometimes there is no way to tell who owns the cabana and businesses will take the tent off but leave the frame.

Godwin said that is simply not true.

Copyright 2018 WECT. All rights reserved.