Congrats to Atlantic City for shining bright with Pink on July 12th and kudos to all involved, including the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority! I spent the time walking all over town. Everywhere I went was mobbed, and full of smiles, except on Bart Blatstein’s Playground Pier. There, the restaurants were packed: yet, below is the last picture taken before staff on the pier lowered hurricane shutters so you could not see the crowd outside. Additionally, the Pier’s observation decks were closed. Other businesses in town bent over backwards to say welcome.
At Playground Pier on the Boardwalk there were also large walls of curtains blocking any view to the stage. I get it, it’s a paid party. But, I remember when the parties were free, the government wasn’t in charge, and there was much more relaxation in the air. One didn’t worry about what sections they purchased. One worried about getting to the open beaches early enough to get a good spot. And lifeguards were on duty through the night to encourage taking advantage of the ocean, a huge selling point for a beach concert. That night, the ocean seemed closed by fencing.
Personally, I would like to see the party atmosphere everywhere with future concerts, whether in Boardwalk Hall or on the beach, streamed live throughout town, including onto the Boardwalk monitors. Like Mardi Gras, let the fun pervade the city and all her neighborhoods so everyone can be part of it. I also wondered what it takes to get into the VIP Section. Some of the people I saw looked more like they were politically or influentially connected, than important.
Which brings me to my next observation. On June 15th, Alley Cat Allies held a presentation on the boardwalk next to Garden Pier. The stray cats we see all the time on the beach are found, neutered, returned to the colony, then fed by Ally volunteers. The strays also help keep the rat and the mouse population down.
While there, I noticed a person pull up 10 minutes after the start of the ceremony and start ticketing parked cars. I am sure most of the people attending the short ceremony had no idea a fee was due. I walk this block every day, sometimes two and three times, and often overhear bewildered recipients of tickets say things like, “I didn’t even know it was paid parking!!??”
New Jersey Avenue is a very long beach block, about a quarter mile. On this beach block there are two parking pay stanchions, and only a few signs saying pay at the stanchion. We need to make Atlantic City user-friendly, with better signage. Meters at each spot would also help, as would lines denoting parking spaces painted onto the street. We are a tourist town that should be welcoming, not confusing. I regularly have to stop and help people, showing them how the pay-to-park systems work.
I also noticed one car that wasn’t ticketed. When I walked by this car en route home, I saw it had both a CRDA parking pass hanging from the mirror, and a police emergency sign in the window. I was on the boardwalk over an hour, and didn’t see an emergency. So, ladies and gentleman, I would like to remind all that we are under siege by the state of NJ for everything. Let us behave as we should, so we can move forward as we want. The good ole boy/girl network has to stop. Let’s start issuing the tickets when vehicles are suspect, and, then, if they are issued wrongly, let that person go to his/her boss to establish legitimacy. It seems to me what’s good for you, is good for all.
In City Hall, on July 5th, 6th ward council person Jesse Kurtz called a meeting to discuss problems throughout the city with the short term rentals found online on sites like AirBNB.
There are things I think should be pointed out:
- Airbnb is here to stay – like Uber – Figure it out and make it work within systems that work.
- Atlantic City, within recent history, outlawed weekly rentals. That was overthrown in court.
- Loud, obnoxious, late night behavior does not have to be tolerated. There are noise ordinances, and housing codes that must be met in any city. Even the raucous boardwalk and beach bar have guidelines Enforce them.
- No landlord goes out of his way to create a nuisance. The best tenant I ever had became the worst tenant I ever had overnight. 3 good years with them did not take away the one bad year that stands out.
- Nearby Ocean City and many other resort towns make millions off the weekly vacationers. We are currently a weekend/short stay town, and, our visitors all come with a pocket full of cash. Atlantic City used to know, if you get folks to town, they will spend on their own.
- The pool of summer tenants lining up for a fun weekend away is better than supporting year round residents with our tax dollars. If we get enough of them, we might be able to stop supporting so many as they become gainfully employed.
- Local residents have jobs tied to a tourist based economy. Noise has always come with tourists. It even happens in affluent summer towns like Margate, Avalon, Cape May.
- Square footage determines allowable occupancy, not the neighbors.
- Our property values are depressed throughout the county, especially in Atlantic City. If we come up with a viable use they will go up!! A weekend or a summer resident uses far less public resources than a permanent resident, and houses that attract them bring in far more money than those which don’t. Let’s take lessons from successful towns up and down the coast.
Here, courtesy of Triax 57, is the video of the full meeting. My comments can be seen starting 49:30 into the clip.
In June, at a CRDA meeting, I stood and spoke about saving our historic buildings that remain. The Church of the Ascension sat proudly and beautifully on the corner of Kentucky and Pacific Avenues since 1893. After decades of planning we have not been able to plan around the old Atlantic City. We all know how we local residents feel, destroyed to our core.
Let’s hope they figure out how to get it right by the residents.
Finally, as I type this, Gov. Chris Christie, NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney, and Assembly Speaker Vince Prieto continue sparring on TV news over the state’s recent partial shutdown. Right now, the fight has something to do with paying the furloughed state workers back pay. This may sound mean, but I do not mean it to be, it is meant to jar some people into reality: I don’t care if they get paid.
There are many individuals and businesses along the coast who only have 10 weeks to make their year. They lost the biggest weekend of the summer. The workers only lost a few hours. Moreover, many of the workers are rank and file party people who just vote for the incumbant, and are expected to do so, in order to keep their jobs. Let them touch financially what is wrong with our state. We aren’t paying the businesses who lost money, or the tourist who traveled from out of state to find New Jersey closed. We should not pay them. Government keeps carving out special exceptions for itself, and it’s time to stop.
To our elected representatives: You have a FULL YEAR, right now, to balance next year’s budget. Just do it. I’ve had enough with elected officials at all levels, and from what I read, most of you have also.
Contact Geoff Rosenberger