Sunday, May 4, 2014

New Jerseyana, Exhibit 4

This year's crop of Brigantine beach tags.  I'm geezer Nr 1156 this year.

One of the enduring rites of spring is to hot-foot it down to the city beach tag office before the 1st of June in order to buy one's seasonal beach tags at the pre-season rate ($15 smackers apiece this year).  After the 31st of May the price jumps to $18/tag for the inattentive.  The opportunity to buy the tags at a reduced fee is available to all, but basically a good will gesture by the City to residents.  Out of towners rarely arrive before the  price hike.   Seniors (65 and over), including your geezer diarist, get a free tag, as do active duty service members and their immediate family.  Some New Jersey towns, notably Cape May, extend free tags to veterans as well.  My island is a little behind the curve on that last item.

I well remember the days when we swam for free.  Early attempts to impose a fee to use the beach were met with derision and noncompliance by the town folk.  However, those were the days of "swim at your own risk" with life guards at only a few of the most popular locations along the island's Atlantic Ocean side.  With growing crowds coming to the beach, New Jersey communities were not only forced to increase life guard coverage but also had to shoulder the increased costs for beach clean up, and toilet facilities.  Faced with a choice of higher real estate taxes or a user fee, most municipalities opted for beach tags as the best way to pay for it all.  By the mid-1970s beach tags started becoming more and more common up and down the Jersey coast. Now, tags are almost universal.  Atlantic City is still a major hold out.  No beach tags are required for access to the sand or water.  I assume casino gambling helps defray the costs.  Beach tags are mostly associated with New Jersey.  One wonders how other states and their communities handle the costs?

13 comments:

  1. High real estate taxes and beach badges. NJ continues to make it tough for its residents to enjoy the natural resources which made and still make our state so desirable. A patch of sand requires cash in hand.

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    1. Baydog: Which beach do you use? How much to the tags cost?

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    2. George, I rarely go to the beach any more. I'd much rather be on the water. Sea Girt is our go-to beach when cousins or friends are visiting and I think it's 8-10 bucks for adults? If we sail over to Tice's shoal which is on the bay side of Island Beach State Park, we can anchor and swim or take the dinghy in and walk through the dunes and up to the beach for free.

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    3. That rate is per day by the way.

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    4. Brigantine also has a slightly cheaper weekly badge. Don't know what they charge for a single day. Sea Girt is quite a haul from Tices Shoal. Free sounds better to me, especially if you're talking a boat load of peeps!

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    5. Sea Girt and Forked River are equidistant more or less from Lawrenceville. If it's decidedly a beach day, we just go straight there.

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  2. Thanks for this. When we moved from the UK to NJ and discovered the phenomenon of beach tags we assumed it was just the "American" way. Had no idea it was mainly a Jersey thing. We even needed beach tags to use the little beach on the lake in our inland town.

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  3. I've heard there's a place out on a lake in the mid-west that charges a user fee and has tags to keep track of who's paid and who hasn't, but otherwise, yep, this beach tag thing appears to be more or less restricted to New Jersey. Hard to image how politicians elsewhere have overlooked this little revenue generator.

    In the early days of beach tags some towns issued them for free to tax-paying property owners. An out of towner soon took that to court claiming discrimination. The Court ruled that if a town charged one person a fee for access to the beach then the town had to charge everyone, whether or not they were taxpayers, the same fee. Similar for salt water fishing licenses, which we also now have. No attempt (yet) to tax breathing the air.

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  4. No beach tags down in Deerfield Beach ... They just charge you $3 an hour to park instead.

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  5. Hey, that's another way...

    This post is getting more comments than the usual posts I do about boats!

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  6. Hello,
    Your explanations and images ditch my help.
    I want to make a e-book about how to build a boat with vele.Barca we built in 1977, but we did not have a camera handy, so I am inspired by your pictures. I hope you do not mind. Thanks

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