Seaside Heights distancing itself from visitors who ‘look for fights’
SEASIDE HEIGHTS — Borough officials don't dislike teens. They're just tired of playing the role of mom and dad when kids get out of hand.
So this summer marks the first real test of recent regulations aimed at reining in some of the problems that may have helped create a not-so-family-friendly image for the Ocean County municipality.
A room can no longer be booked in the borough without the presence of an adult (at least 18 years old) who actually stays on site during the stay. If any issues arise, from noise complaints to underage drinking, that adult is the responsible party.
"The landlord will get a ticket if there's not an 18-year-old on the registry," Mayor Tony Vaz told Townsquare Media.
The borough is home to dozens of hotels and motels, along with hundreds of apartments, rental houses and condominiums.
In just the past three weeks, two landlords have had their licenses revoked for certain units due to "three strikes" over a short period of time, Vaz said. The borough is working on an ordinance for 2020 that would extend a license penalty that affects more than just a troubled unit; with three complaints related to one hotel room, for example, the hotel owner could temporary lose his or her license for the whole building.
Vaz said the borough has also informed landlords that tickets will be issued for crowds on property walkways that can interfere with the entrance or exit. Vaz said large crowds of minors, even well-behaved minors, send the wrong signal to families hoping for an enjoyable, drama-free stay at the shore.
"We're seeing a lot of positive things," Vaz said. "As a matter of fact, we've heard from several business people that say this is good. This is going to change our image."
In addition to stricter room regulations, the borough has put an end to "teen nights" at local establishments. The events, which would allow individuals younger than 21 to enter, still offered alcohol to of-age patrons, resulting in the constant threat and headache of underage drinking incidents.
"There was no separation," Vaz said.
Beyond hosting events geared toward the whole family, including free movies on the beach, the borough has also attempted to change public perception by attending conventions outside the state and country.
"These people are respectable people, they're good people, they're enjoying life," Vaz said of Heights visitors. "We didn't stop dancing; it's still going on, but we have a clientele that's not going to look for fights."
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