Ordinance 49 is back in the news.
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.
These are the 2011 figures in the other Absecon Island communities.
Average Sales Price for 2011
And, our northern neighbor:
Yep, the further you get from Atlantic City the more worth your property gains. Atlantic City should take some lessons on how to rent from these affluent communities and spread the wealth instead of banning it.
I understand one of the reasons the law was passed is because sometimes the renters make noise. All I can think of is my long-gone friend Louise Donahue who summered for many years with her kids on the beach in Ocean City. On one corner was the summer home of Prince Ranier and American-born Princess Grace of Monaco. Grace’s father Jack had a property on the third corner. I am told Jack would rent, and occasionally his tenants were loud. Louise would grin and say: “At least they’re having fun. That’s why Ocean City is here.”
An additional fact to point out, many of those complaining about noise took advantage of cheap prices on new houses that were underwritten by the CRDA and the noise the casinos created to begin with. Funnier still, many of those homes are no longer worth what the homeowner paid and some make livings directly tied to the tourism trade. If people wanted to be in A.C., they’d be worth more.
We’ve been strangling the tourism goose-that-laid-the-golden-egg for years, and killing the flowers while watering the weeds. It’s time to start replanting the garden with new seeds and throw out the old ideas. They have not worked in the 34 years of gambling. Come on Atlantic City, wake up and smell your roses …. They stink!
Printed below is a letter I found in my e-mail last night, from one of the affected homeowners. It says a lot:
Is Atlantic City Poised to Become the Only Seashore Town on the Jersey Shore that Bans Vacation Rentals?
Yes it is. Atlantic City is presently cracking down on owners of vacation properties by instituting weekend stings and forcing owners to court and fining them hundreds of dollars with threats of thousands of dollars in fines with the intent of closing down all vacation rentals summer and winter in the city of Atlantic City.
In effect, Atlantic City will become the first and only city on the Jersey shore that will be closing it’s door to vacation renters unless they are renting a hotel room or are staying in a casino. The term of “beach house rentals” will not apply in Atlantic City.
Does this make sense? Of course not! The city Master Plan, which the city spent a very large sum to have produced, even mentioned that Atlantic City is sorely in need of Vacation Home Rentals more on par with other beach towns. Yet Atlantic City, with its all-encompassing wisdom, feels the right course is to shut down beach house rentals.
Go on the vacation sites such as VRBY (Vacation Rentals by Owners) and Homeaway.com and see the beautiful homes for rent in Atlantic City and read all the terrific comments by past renters to see exactly what Atlantic City is trying to stop.
I am a manager for three of these homes. They are beautifully maintained and an asset to the community. If they were to close, they would become abandoned properties and be a statistic in the foreclosure crisis. They would be abandoned and boarded up in first-class neighborhoods, affecting property values and appearances of Atlantic City’s comeback. Many of these homes are in prime Atlantic City neighborhoods. This would be an embarrassment to this city, or should be. Right now they draw people into these communities whom might never have reason to come here. Many first comments show amazement that such a beautiful place even exists in Atlantic City. Comments on the different rental properties show people have an amazing time, spend lots of money, enjoy the neighborhoods, casinos and beaches, and go home and spread the word.
The closure of these properties would mean loss of income to our cleaning crews, our maintenance people, our landscapers, our service people, carpet cleaners, jitneys, limo and transportation rentals, local restaurants and businesses that these vacation rentals generate. It is not insubstantial!
Atlantic City generates year round rentals. People want to come here in January and February and March, believe it or not. Beach rental houses allow large groups and family groups and several couples the choice to stay in a home for their vacation.
Why does Atlantic City think this is not OK? Every other shore community welcomes this business? As a manager I am aware of the occasional problem these rentals generate and it all can be solved in the best interests of everyone. I am sure every other beach town has dealt with issues but none of them shut down their rental market. Only Atlantic City Does That!
— Ivana Uhland
Atlantic City, NJ
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Geoff Rosenberger is a Broker Associate at Marketplace Realty. Read more of the acweekly.com columnist, Margate City resident and self-proclaimed visionary’s “Geoff’s Page,” including local snap shots, thoughts, Atlantic City news, random musings, GLBT-related news, “The Real Report,” and happenings every week — only at acweekly.com.
E-mail Geoff at email@example.com or call him at 609-385-7585.
What do you think? Leave your comments and thoughts below.
We are spending millions of dollars telling folks to DO AC. We can’t welcome them to town by telling them they are doing it illegally.
As I read through the close to 100 posted comments, thoughts came to mind about our responsibility as citizens, Atlantic City residents, and Americans.
Some year-round residents have empty pockets from money needed. Tourist dollars flow through many hands. They are spent over and over again by locals paying their bills. We need to bring back the old Atlantic City where we concentrated on spreading affluence and money everywhere.
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