BAY HEAD, N.Y. (CBS 2) — 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.”

Others, though, say everyone should have access to any beach they want, and there should be uniform rules – including providing public bathrooms – like Bradley Beach does.

“This is the Jersey Shore,” Neptune resident Karen Cowart said. “It’s for everybody to enjoy it, it shouldn’t be for those who live here, or like a monopoly or something.”

The DEP has held several public meetings on the beach access issue, with the last meeting scheduled for next week. The agency told CBS 2 that it will review testimony to see if the proposal needs to be tweaked, and that a decision will be made in the next few months.

The DEP said it will work with communities to craft access plans that make local sense, while protecting the rights and needs of residents and businesses.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

Comments (3)
  1. Bob Fowler says:

    Let me make sure that I understand what is being proposed…

    I own a house in a part of New Jersey near the shore, pay higher taxes to maintain these beaches and to keep my neighborhood to a standard that I have selected to live in. Other people, from areas that don’t pay for this lifestyle, are entitled to come to my neighborhood, use the services that I pay for, insist on additional services (public bathrooms, easy access food sources, free public parking…), and leave the clean-up from their day at the beach for me to pay for.

    When did it become my responsibility to provide a happy day at the beach for you? Totally restricting beach access would be wrong too. There are many free access beaches in the area, but they have too many people on them, so I want to go to a nicer beach. As with most other things in life, if you want better, pay for it.

    Would these beaches be so desirable if access was $10/person? with a $20/day parking fee? I’m sure that these municipalities would welcome tourist who were willing to pay their way.

    Stop always looking to get something for nothing (the new American way).

    1. vy says:

      No body said a town can not charge for access to parking or per person to access the beach.
      Those charges have to be reasonable and truly open access to anyone willing to pay.
      And yes the town can make a profit on those services to pay for life guards, beach cleaning services, etc.
      If you want to know how that works look at the town of Long Beach, NY, which charges for access to it’s beaches by nonresidents.
      Just keep in mind, there are Federal laws specifying that the first 100 feet up the beach from the high tide line is not owned by anybody, it’s considered public property nation wide.
      If a town 100% blocks beach access, that town could spend many tax dollars depfending those policies in federal court, and still loose, possibly being forced into a more open police than they might craft themselves.

  2. Jack says:

    Simply put the Shore towns haven’t been watching the news with an understanding that people may suddenly appear, en mass, ready to protest for Democratic Freedom, oh sorry that was in Egypt, I meant protest for beach access. Silly me.

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