Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Jersey's Dirty Little Secret

Thursday, March 19, 2009......

I know several people that love the idea of blogging, but can do without the regular posting because of other things that may get in the way, such as life.

Several months ago, I asked my sister to guest blog our experience at the restaurant Craft. Today, I've asked a very passionate friend of hers whom I've become friends with to be a guest blogger.

I gave "L" no limitations. I told her to post on what she's passionate about. Initially, she was going to write about her love of McDonald's Shamrock Shake, but since it was March 18th, I thought it cruel for readers to have to wait an entire year before they could get their hands on one.

"L" is very passionate about things such as Hearts of Palm, politics, lukewarm food, the environment and has a desire to be chosen for jury duty. That first and last topics are ones I'm trying to wrap my arms around.

I'm not from NJ, but commuted to work on a daily basis (94 miles one way)so I never wanted to spend my free time there even with Yoga Girl living there. I have no idea about the beach situation in NJ, but after reading this, "L" would not be happy to live in the great State of CT because of similar issues with beach fees. My personal favorite part is the last paragraph......


NJ and 'dirty' in the same sentence? How ironic. Well, take it from someone raised in the Garden State, NJ happens to be one of the best kept secrets in the country. Unfortunately for us however, most folks who fly in to visit fly into Newark Airport and wind up taking the Turnpike somewhere else and honestly, it is probably one of the least picturesque parts of the state so really, who can blame them for thinking the whole state is an armpit. Of course those of us who live here know that is most certainly not the case but really, since we already have enough people, let them continue to think so - we don't want the word getting out! That aside, NJ certainly has what I like to refer to as either its "dirty little secret" or legal highway robbery. In 2006, much to the chagrin of most NJ residents, the sales tax in the great Garden State increased from 6% to 7%. While a 1% increase may not sound like very much, take it from a family friend who forgot about the tax increase and bought a new car the day after the increase and wound up paying almost $1k more for the same set of wheels, it is. Anyway .... with an average national sales tax of 5.64%, our new sales tax firmly places NJ on the very short list of states paying the highest sales tax in the country (only Mississippi , Rhode Island & Tennessee also have sales tax rates at 7% while Alaska , Delaware , Montana and Oregon have no state sales tax at all). So in addition to having the highest property taxes and the highest auto insurance rates in the country, New Jerseyians are now in the highest bracket of sales tax. How much luckier can we get?

Oddly enough, the sales tax rate increase motivated me to get back onto my soapbox about beach fees. As a little bit of background, back in 1929, Bradley Beach was the first Jersey Shore town to require beach goers to purchase badges to get onto the beach ostensibly as a reaction to the multitude of “city folk” who were utilizing the newly opened Holland Tunnel to take advantage of New Jersey ’s shoreline. (Jeopardy! alert) There are approximately 130 miles of NJ coastline between Sandy Hook and Cape May and 38 public beaches. Of that number, only 4 (Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, North Wildwood and Atlantic City ) do not require beach goers to purchase badges prior to venturing on the beach. Considering that New Jersey is not only the only state in the country but the only place in the world where folks are charged to enjoy public beaches which similar to public parks, should be free for anyone to enjoy, as a New Jerseyan, personally, I am outraged.

Beach towns rack up millions of dollars each summer charging folks for the ‘privilege’ of sitting on "their" sand. Excuse me? Last time I checked, the beach didn't actually belong to anyone. Geesh. These towns claim that they need to charge the fees to offset the cost of cleaning the beaches and supplying lifeguards to keep us all safe blah, blah, blah. Somehow all of the other states in the U.S. and countries in the world manage to provide these services without robbing blind the folks who simply want to enjoy the ocean. Perhaps it is because all of the additional revenue that shore towns collect through beach badges, subsidize much more than what is required to maintain the beaches (but that is for another day). We are already paying the highest property taxes in the nation so why, as New Jersey residents, do we have to suffer the insult of not having free access to our beaches? Has anyone been to the Riviera or the lush beaches of Hawaii or Bora Bora? Dare I say they are just a bit nicer than the good ol' Jersey Shore and somehow they manage to make their gorgeous sands available for free to anyone who wishes to enjoy them while the residents of NJ continue to get jacked.

Around this time every year, I get my soapbox megaphone out and start writing the governor and every NJ Congressional rep I can find. As evidenced by the fact that I'm still wearing a badge when I plant my rump in the sand, thus far, I haven't had much luck other than receiving a few lovely form letters back in the mail. Well we all know what a force of nature Little Ms. Blogger is so maybe this will be the one avenue that will actually get some results .... Beach goers of NJ, unite!


wisdomgiver said...

Hi "L"- I enjoyed your blog very much as I, too, love the beach. Just wanted to let you know (in an attempt to help you feel better) that the sales tax here in California is 7.75% and has been for several years!!!! Ain't that a kick in the butt? We don't like it, but that's life. Keep posting, your soapboxing is cute!!
Lynn in San Diego

mazingamy said...

The sales tax in Los Angeles county is actually 8.25%, so that should make you feel a bit better. I love the Jersey shore, have spent a lot of time in Sea Isle City and Avalon and have always thought the beach tags were about the lamest. On the other hand, the fudgie wudgie guy? CA needs that on our beaches!

SillyStud said...

well, at least we don't have to pay sales tax on the beach passes... or do we?

LiLu said...

I would gladly pay a fee just to have a beach closer than 3 hours away ;-)

But I totally hear you on this. That is some BS!

wisdomgiver said...

Hey There..yeah we have beaches less than 3 hours away, but unless you pay to park in a lot it takes you about an hour to find a place to park. We have lots and lots of beach-lovers here! It just takes time and money to do anything in SoCal. Bummer.

A.J. said...

I live in one of those beach towns. Beach access is a unfortunatley our only viable option. New Jersey doesn't allocate tax dollars to #1 clean and #2 fund the salaries of the lifeguards like other states! The so-called people from NJ made it so, not allowing this allocation to happen. Why should the beach towns have to foot the bill! Also beach access revenue stays on the beach! The beaches should be run by the county and have allocation of tax dollars to do so.