Hilton Head Island - Protect Residents

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Petition to the Mayor and Town Council of Hilton Head Island to Protect Residents

1.    The number one responsibility of the Town Council of the Town of Hilton Head Island is to protect the health and safety of the residents of the Town of Hilton Head Island.

2.    Hilton Head Island has an aging and vulnerable population, which is more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus.

3.    According to expert epidemiologists, the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is through limited social contact.

4.    Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and the United States of America still have limited access to testing for COVID-19.

5.    As of March 20, 2020, there continues to be an increase of positive tests for COVID-19 in South Carolina and nation-wide, including 1 in Sun City and 4 others in Beaufort County.

6.    Other states and jurisdictions are being proactive to protect the health and safety of their residents and slow the spread of COVID-19 by issuing orders to “stay in place” in order to limit contact.

7.    Local doctors are urging that the Town of Hilton Head Island take action to stop non-residents from visiting. https://www.islandpacket.com/news/coronavirus/article241331271.html

8.    There are only 93 staffed beds at Hilton Head Hospital, with limited equipment, treatment & services for a population of about 40,000. According to the Lodging Dashboard on the website of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, there were 148,533 visitors on Hilton Head Island in January, 2020.

9.    The Town Council’s Resolution establishing a State of Emergency cited the authority of the Mayor under section 7-7-20 of the Municipal Code of the Town of Hilton Head Island and stated that the Mayor is authorized to impose additional restrictions as may be necessary to appropriately respond to the State of Emergency. That section includes the authority to “define and impose an evacuation or curfew.”

10.    Similar coastal tourist jurisdictions, including the Outer Banks area of North Carolina, the City of Isle of Palms, S.C., the City of Tybee Island, Ga., and the Florida Keys have enacted emergency declarations to ask guests to leave and to limit occupancy to residents.

 

Based on the foregoing, we respectfully urge the Town Council of the Town of Hilton Head Island to act by ordinance immediately to do the following:

1.    Issue an emergency declaration to order non-residents to leave and to prohibit entry of non-residents to the Town of Hilton Head in the same manner and with the same exceptions as allowed by other coastal tourist jurisdictions.

2.    Issue an emergency declaration to prohibit the booking of any nightly, daily, weekly or seasonal rentals within the Town of Hilton Head Island for a minimum of 14 days.

3.    Recognizing that our beaches are public, reinstate residents’ access to our public beaches, via public and private access areas, and to public parking areas.

4.    Authorize all Town staff and the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office to enforce these declarations.

5.    Request all available assistance from the State of South Carolina to enforce these declarations.

In conclusion, we believe these proactive steps are necessary to protect the health and safety of our residents and our guests and will maintain the value of our tourist industry.

We are greatly disturbed by the press conference of the Mayor on Friday, March 20, 2020 to close public beaches to all. We believe it is irresponsible to invite more guests to come overload our health care services and other resources. We also consider it inequitable to discriminate between residents who have private access and those who have only public access to the beaches. 

We ask you to act with the best interest of all residents. 

The Coalition of Island Neighbors COIN