Wealthy Jersey Shore town accused of trying to block public from beach … again
DEAL — For the third time in as many years, this wealthy Jersey Shore borough has introduced an ordinance aimed at instituting permit parking, which objectors say will limit public access to beaches.
The ordinance, which was introduced Wednesday night, would restrict parking along several borough streets from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. The permits would cost $100 for the season, or $50 per month for the three-month period.
Andrew Chamberry, co-chairman of the Surfrider Foundation's Jersey Shore Chapter, said his group and others are objecting to the proposed ordinance, describing it as a subterfuge aimed at keeping outsiders off the beaches.
He said since the 1970s the borough has tried different ways to restrict access to the beaches. He said that has included attempts to limit access to their beach club, trying to create private beaches, and more recently restricting parking — and through that, beach access.
"They keep on trying new ways to introduce these ordinances, but the public feels, and I feel, that the reason why these ordinances are being introduced historically is to keep people away from those multi-million dollar homes down at the beach," he said.
The latest efforts, he said, started in 2015 after the borough was awarded a $40 million beach restoration contract.
"Now all the beaches are massive and beautiful. They started passing these parking ordinances to try and keep people away."
According to Chambarry, in October 2015 the borough introduced an ordinance that would only issue parking permits to residents. He said last year they introduced an ordinance which would require permits on half of the borough's streets. Both ordinances were tabled after objections were raised, and he hopes the same result will happen this time.
Paying for parking is not unheard of on the Jersey Shore. But Chambarry said in places like Asbury Park and Long Branch, the paid parking guarantees a parking spot. And the parking is for beaches that have more amenities than Deal offers.
"In Deal, they want to charge you $100 for a parking permit that won't guarantee you a space. When you go down to the beach there's no lifeguard, there are no bathrooms, there are no amenities, and you can't swim," he said. "Essentially they're charging you $100 for you to sit on a beach that you can't enjoy."
Ultimately, he said the law is on the side of the objectors.
"They want these beaches to be private. They want to enjoy them for themselves. And they don't understand that under New Jersey law the public has the right to access the shoreline and the waters."
Citing the Public Trust Doctrine, Chambarry said "the shore is held in trust for everyone."
The ordinance is scheduled for a public hearing and vote at the borough's May 10 meeting, and Chambarry said his group and others are determined to continue to object to this and similar measures.
"We have to stand up and go to the meetings and show them that we're going to fight them to the end," he said. "If it comes down to ultimate litigation there are groups that will fund the litigation for your public trust rights."
Phone calls and emails to Borough Administrator Stephen R. Carasia and Mayor Sam Cohen seeking comment were not returned Thursday.
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