From the WSJ:
The quest for easy access at the Jersey Shore could be a thing of the past.
State regulators have proposed allowing every town to decide where—if anywhere—to provide parking, bathrooms and other necessities for families packing up and heading to the beach, frustrating people who were hoping for stricter policies that would force towns to accommodate sun-worshippers. Towns’ plans would need state approval.
It’s a reversal from a Corzine administration policy that tried to create standardized rules, such as requiring towns to provide round-the-clock parking and public facilities every half-mile. The state was paying for shore maintenance, and courts had ruled beaches are open to the public up to the high water mark.
But those rules were struck down in 2009 after the town of Avalon sued, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is trying a new approach.
State officials promise access will be the same, or better, and they say they’re frustrated with claims to the contrary. Towns will have the option to supplement statewide regulations that require new developments to have access points.
Still, some say it’s just wrong for towns to all but block beaches and waterways that belong to the public. It’s not simply about walkways or openings to the sand. In essence, parking and bathrooms contribute to truly open access, said Helen Henderson, a policy advocate with the American Littoral Society.
“That’s not something that the DEP can remove, any more than they can the right to free speech,” she said. “We have these fundamental rights that exist.”
Mr. Cantor said there were a handful of towns that people complain about: Sea Bright, Deal, Loveladies, Mantoloking and some sections of Long Branch. He said the state is working with those towns to create plans. Towns that don’t comply could face stricter and more expensive permitting, as well as be ineligible for applying for certain state funds. Some of those penalties are not in current regulations, but will be included soon, he said.
That’s not good enough for Ms. Henderson.
“We don’t trust them, and we don’t trust the municipalities to do right by the people,” Ms. Henderson said. “That opportunity has been there in the past and it hasn’t been fulfilled.”
To some New Jersey beachgoers, it’s like getting sand kicked in their face.
A new proposal may allow individual shore towns to determine rules for beach access, and that means shore-lovers could get shut out of their favorite beaches, reports CBS 2′s Christine Sloan.
While people will have no problem lying out on the beach for this Memorial Day Weekend, environmentalists said that by the end of the summer, they may have a tougher time getting on the more exclusive beaches in New Jersey.
The state’s Department of Environmental Protection wants to relax rules, allowing shore towns to create their own beach access plans.
“The rule proposal gives more power to the towns, and we think it’s a mistake because historically, some towns – only a handful – have restricted beach access,” John Weber said.
Weber, who works with an organization called Surfrider that’s fighting the proposal, pointed to exclusive towns like Bay Head and Mantoloking. He said they’ve made it difficult to use their beaches by providing little parking, no bathrooms and excessive rules.
If the proposal goes through, Weber said, they could have more power to limit access.
Tourist Emily Wilson said she sees nothing wrong with that.
“It’s nice to have a sense of community, where you go on the beach and know it’s only your neighbors or people renting your neighbor’s house,” she said. “It keeps it nice and private.”