Atlantic City denies rights and restricts tourism

ATLANTIC CITY — Last year I wrote a column about Ordinance 49 in Atlantic City, which restricted weekly rentals. It garnered 90 online comments, an all-time high at ACWeekly.com. Basically, the ordinance outlaws rentals for less than 90 days, though very few Americans take vacations 90 days long.

In private e-mails, and phone conversations, I heard from people around the state the country. This continued through the winter, and yesterday it started again more heavily. Investors and homeowners who have continued to rent in A.C. have received summonses and been hauled into court.

Here’s what needs pointing out today: A brief Internet search for weekly rentals turned up rentals in every community on our southern shore from Brigantine through Cape May. When I speak to coastal brokers around the state, they report all towns have weekly rentals. Nearby Ocean City, which bills itself as America’s Greatest Family Resort, gets $10,000 a week for some beach-block homes, and more for some beachfront.

Atlantic City is at the bottom of an economic heap, trying to dig herself out of a hole where underemployment and unemployment is well over 25 percent. We live in a county where 35 percent of the work force is tied to the casino industry in a town that has reported so many declines in gambling revenue the state had to step in and take over.

Last week, I read an article about rooms going as cheaply as $19 nightly in our empty hotels and how it conceivably brings in a less affluent clientele, painting still a worse picture of a town in decline.

Regardless, restricting home rentals stops the family trade the town and the CRDA says it desperately needs. I contend those wanting to spend thousands for a home are more likely to spread that wealth throughout the town and the area and spend far more during their stay. Now we are fining and threatening jail to those who invested in Atlantic City for renting to these more affluent consumers.

Atlantic City and County Board of Realtors MLS statistics show single-family homes in Atlantic City sold for an average price $150,292 in 2011, almost half the county average of $288,340.

 

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