The City of Myrtle Beach mandated an emergency event for this coming Labor Day weekend.
Out of concerns for the type of tourists Myrtle Beach will attract, barricades were placed along Ocean Boulevard today.
After a shooting at the Sea Dunes Oceanfront motel yesterday, we asked local merchants if they believed the barricades helped with gun violence.
To a man, every merchant we spoke with said they do not.
Former Mayor Mark McBride videos barricades being set in place for Emergency Event
ROUGH CROWD or Something Else?
Former Mayor Mark McBride and downtown merchants speculated the barricades were put in place for other reasons. In unison they expressed that this was simply an ongoing effort by the City of Myrtle Beach to put small business owners out of business.
City of Myrtle Beach tourism was down 52% Summer 2020. After May violence, the barricades were put in place and left until late July. Merchants are concerned the barricades send the wrong message to visiting guests.
MyrtleBeachSC News recently reported July 8th sworn testimony by City Manager John Pedersen concerning his successful attempt at shutting down small business owners in a former area known as the SuperBlock.
The transcript between Pedersen and Attorney Tommy Brittain reads as follows:
Brittain: So what were you doing about that as a city?
Pedersen: Well, we did a number of efforts to work with the property owners. From the time that those properties were first identified, there were plans that were set up, security plans to deal with them. We responded to numerous incidents at both of those properties. And, finally, when those problems continued to persist, we did make a — there was a decision that there was no longer — no longer something that was conducive to the City, and there was a decision that the whole block needed to change.
Brittain: Were you trying to get Coastal Carolina in there?
Pedersen: Coastal Carolina at one point was looking for — well, they were looking for a property in which to put a performing arts theater.
Pedersen: We were trying to get them interested in purchasing a property. And, yes, we were interested in them looking at a property in the Superblock area.
Ultimately, the City did purchase the properties. None of the properties that we’re discussing were there. I think that there was a question as to whether or not that theater could be put in the Pure Ultra Club at one point in time,
but that was discarded because it was just was not a suitable property for the intended purpose.
Brittain: Was Brown Bethune involved in that process?
Pedersen: I think he may have represented — he may have been working with CCU at that point.
Brittain: What is a nuisance under the law in South Carolina?
Pedersen: I don’t know, sir. I don’t know the definition of the law in South Carolina.
Brittain: Do you know to what extent the City used the claim of nuisance against this plaintiff?
Pedersen: I have reviewed the documents relating to the revocation of the business license, and the list for Natalia’s is very similar to the list that I just read for the Pure Ultra Club. And I do believe that that constitutes a nuisance under anyone’s definition.
Brittain: What — are there other businesses in Myrtle Beach that have had murders and the like that are still open and functioning?
Brittain: I mean, like RipTydz Restaurant up on the Ocean Boulevard, they had a murder that occurred right in the building. Isn’t that true?
2 MR. CONNOR: Object to the form.
Pedersen: That is true.
Brittain: Did you do anything to that? Did you pursue a nuisance claim against RipTydz?
Pedersen: No, sir.
Brittain: Doesn’t the City have an obligation to prevent these sorts of things and protect these businesses? You’re not claiming that James Brady did any of these things, are you? [Brady is suing the city- Brittain’s client]
12 MR. CONNOR: Object to the form.
Pedersen: No, sir, of course not.
Brittain then corners Pedersen on his communications about placing Coastal Carolina University in the Superblock in lieu of existing legal businesses.
Brittain: What property rights are guaranteed to citizens of the United States in the United States Constitution?
Pedersen: I’m not a legal scholar, and I could not answer that question.
Brittain: Okay. Do you know whether or not a citizen has a right to free exercise and use of their property?
Pedersen: Again, I don’t know specifically what the Constitution says about property rights.
Brittain: All right, sir. But you’re the city manager of Myrtle Beach; is that correct?
Pedersen: That is correct.
Brittain: Were you involved in efforts to determine what properties should exist in the superblock?
Pederesen: No, sir.
Brittain: You never had any communications with Brown Bethune about getting rid of certain properties and getting other certain properties in position?
Pedersen: Never — what properties should exist?
Brittain: No. What I’m asking you is, did you ever have any email communications with Brown Bethune about, quote, getting rid of bars and moving through properties to put other properties in the superblock?
(Suddenly Pedersen Remembers!)
Pedersen:Yes, there was correspondence with Mr. Bethune that did talk about not having bars in the superblock.
Brittain: Okay. Now, who is Brown Bethune?
Pedersen: Brown is a commercial real estate agent.
Brittain: Okay. Was his involvement in this process something he was doing as a benefit to the City, or was it a profit motive type thing for him?
Pedersen: He was not engaged by the City for this in any way, shape, or form. He’s never had a contract with the City for any real estate work. I have very little recollection of that correspondence, but I think he was representing a property owner on this former superblock looking for a purchaser.
Brittain: Okay. But as far as you know, whatever he was doing he was doing as part of his normal business activities?
Pedersen: Yes, not on behalf of the City.
Brittain: Okay. But do you recall having substantial email communication with him about what was going on in the superblock?
Pedersen: I did not [recall] until I received your correspondence yesterday. I had not thought about that in two years.
Brittain: But you did receive it; right?
Brittain: Okay. And so now you see that you had numerous e-mails back and forth with him about what was going on with the superblock; is that correct?
Pedersen: That is correct.
Brittain: All right. And is he kin to anybody on City Council?
Pedersen: He is — as you know, he is married to the mayor.
Brittain: Okay. Did you have any other communications with business real estate developers like you did with Brown Bethune as far as the superblock is concerned?
Pedersen: Not to my recollection.