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Archive for the ‘Airbnb in Ocean Grove’ Category

 

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Musical selection from Avenue Q.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

If you rent out an apartment or a house in Ocean Grove, you are engaging in a business.  And if your property is marked R  (residential) on the zoning map, then what you are doing may not be legal.  But have no fear, because Neptune Township allows you to do it, and it has been done for many years in this beach town.

Just get a Mercantile (business) license once per year. and have a CO inspection done whenever you have a new tenant. Such rentals in the Grove are not unusual, and it is not uncommon for vacationers to rent a place for a week or two.  If you rent for over 30 days, then a lease would be needed.  And note that you cannot rent out just a room unless you are a hotel with business zoning.

But what about those Airbnb people who are renting out houses and apartments on the Internet for short term use, down to one night.  Currently there are 105 properties for rent on Airbnb in OG. Apartments rent from about $100 to $300 on average per night.  Houses will be more.     Some owners offer Airbnb rentals in more than one home in the Grove and sometimes in more than one town.  This can be a significant money maker for some.

We have heard from Grovers who have been complaining about Airbnb renters who are not gracious visitors and who change the entire complexion of a neighborhood.

But at the last Township Committee meeting  (June 11) another side has been heard from.  Committeemen Carol Rizzo reported that she had met with an Airbnb businessman who owns a number of buildings for purposes of short term rentals, and some of those are in Ocean Grove. She said that he complained to her about all the red tape that he must endure whenever he has a new renter.

We are not sure why she brought this up officially, at his request;  ie where does she stand on this issue? He also got to present his problem during the public portion.  He had 5 minutes, and he said that the Neptune rules are too restrictive and complicated for his business;   No one spoke up in response, one way or another.

The Mayor did not commit to placing this complaint on a forthcoming agenda, so we don’t know where he stands either.

Consider this:

a.  Usually if a person is interested in a zoning ordinance change, the matter is referred to the Planning Board.

b. One of Ocean Grove’s most important citizens, David Shotwell, Sr., the former long-term COO of the CMA said this yesterday  in a comment to Blogfinger regarding our article on the subject:   “A helpful discussion  of the short term housing situation. Much to be done to manage the situation.”  I consider his interest in this topic to be a beacon that we all should pay attention and that active legislation may be needed on behalf of the citizens.

c. We can’t speak for Mr. Shotwell’s motives, but some of our readers are already alerted to a possible threat to our way of life in the Grove.   As it is, there are other concerns as well regarding the quality of life in Ocean Grove such as gridlock.  We have written plenty on that topic.

d.  Any attempt by any citizen group or government entity to increase the crowding of Ocean Grove should be resisted by those who live here. Short term rentals will undoubtedly increase crowding of the Grove.

e. The Home Groaners are having a meeting next Saturday about the Neptune Police Department.  How many of you think that we in OG have serious problems with our police?   Shouldn’t the Groaners be addressing this topic—Airbnb.  Where do they stand?  They are all too often on the wrong side of issues that affect our lifestyles here.

f.  From Airbnb: “What started as a simple platform to offer mattresses and home-made breakfast has today revolutionized the way people travel. Airbnb business model is unique, profitable, and has evolved to such a level that the brand is now the world’s most loved hospitality brand.”  Each of the 3 founders now has personal wealth of $1 billion.

If you read their sales pitch, you will see that they want to invade small popular  communities such as ours, and as they tout the profits to be made, they offer no interest in the towns themselves.  And thus we will see more business opportunists coming into town to buy houses just for  short term rentals profits, but with no concern for the Grove itself.    This exploitation bodes ill for our historic district and its Master Plan.

Only Neptune Township can find ways to protect our lifestyles in this town, as did our neighbor Ocean Township.   For a change Neptune should worry about us and act preemptively.

And meanwhile, is Neptune effectively enforcing the existing rules?

 

THE GRASCALS:   “Stay All Night.”

 

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Are Airbnb renters causing density problems?  Blogfinger.net photo. ©

 

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Will all those Airbnb renters spoil our views and thus our quality of life in OG?  Blogfinger photo. ©

The letter, below, comes from an anonymous source whom we shall call “Crowded in the Grove.” He titles his inquiry “Where is our Community?”  We are reposting this article because there will soon be renewed interest in this topic. (2018)

“The impact of transient summer rentals has all but eliminated our town as a community, and we are just at the brink of becoming just one big motel. Having lived here for many years, I feel like Rip Van Winkle returning from a deep sleep, not recognizing any vestige of what once was Ocean Grove; in just a matter of two to three years, a drastic change has occurred.

“Neighbors  no longer exist, as weekly and daily transients have taken their place on both sides of my house. I no longer have neighbors with whom I can make small talk to but people I have to be suspicious of, because I do not know who they are, as they have become weekly “ships in the night.”  Many of my original neighbors have moved due to the fact that they did to want to live in a revolving motel atmosphere which these homeowners have created.

“These crammed rentals are also part of the parking problems in the Grove as they sometimes have 5 or 6 cars, and they demonstrate little regard for the the residents.

Editor’s Note:   This is a fascinating inquiry, because Airbnb has created a business model that lets any homeowner turn their house or condo or apartment into an instant make-shift hotel.

A quick (2017) survey of Airbnb.com reveals that there are currently 87 ads for Ocean Grove with daily fees of $90-$600 per night.

The homeowner supplies some amenities, but that varies.  It could include towels, linens, and soap. Two links below show some of the listings:

We don’t know if our writer is correct about the prevalence and consequences of this phenomenon in OG, but given the already tight density situation here, anything that might further cause deterioration in quality of life for residents interests us at Blogfinger.  I am a homeowner and have not (yet) noticed this situation, but most of my neighbors are year-round residents.

The new concept of instant hotels is part of what’s called the “sharing economy.”  One person has set up a business to rent out home swimming pools by the hour.

Neptune Township has no special ordinances to govern these transactions.  We are trying to find out if Code Enforcement has any rules such as certificates of occupancy.

But Ocean Township has just passed an ordinance banning short-term rentals——defined as any residential rental under 30 days*   They say that since they have no beaches, they don’t need short term rentals.   (So why are they named for the ocean?)

The Coaster quotes the Ocean Twp. ordinance:  “Short term rentals are detrimental to the community’s welfare and are prohibited  by local law because occupants of such vacation rentals do not have any connection to the community and to the residential neighborhoods in which they are visiting.”  The ordinance also says,…..”such rentals may jeopardize the community’s welfare and degrade the quality of life within the township.”

It’s not clear if the Ocean Twp rationale for banning short term rentals might apply to Ocean Grove, where short term vacation rentals in our beach town are common and could be accomplished through a realtor or a web site like Airbnb.

It seems that the presence or absence of an ocean shouldn’t make their ban OK while leaving us without one.  Anybody out there a lawyer??  Will that Ocean ruling be overturned in the spirit of Fats Waller (below)?

–Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

—*Source: The Coaster, August 10, 2017. Page 4.

FATS WALLER:   “Ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do.”

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