Brigantine Short-Term Rental Chaos

Usually, few people attend Brigantine City Council meetings. However, for the past several months, more and more residents are attending them. They come to listen and to voice their concerns and frustrations.

Their issues are a diminished quality of life in their neighborhood caused by the City allowing commercial uses in a single-family residential zone and the lack of code enforcement, both related to the City’s “policy” on short-term rentals.

This isn’t just a Brigantine problem. Other shore and vacation communities are also dealing with this issue. Brigantine, however, is taking longer than others to “come to grips” with this serious problem which is having, and will have, directly and indirectly, wide-ranging negative consequences if not addressed effectively now.

Those making money by violating the law tarnish Brigantine’s reputation as a “livable, pleasant place to live and visit”.

This problem isn’t new.

Back in 2017, City Council passed a comprehensive set of laws that provides a legal foundation to address and prevent today’s situation. Mayor Sera says, “The City never really used these regulations to their full potential”. That’s an honest statement, if not an answer to the question, why didn’t the City enforce its code? Six years wasted, but, the law is still active.

Brigantine’s municipal government does NOT have the choice to ignore it.

People use the term “animal house”. The term in our zoning code is “resort house”.

It’s defined as, “ A residentially styled structure that is used, maintained, marketed, promoted and/or advertised as a destination location available for rent, lease or sub-lease for a gathering of invited guests for functions and special events.

A resort house is a commercial use appropriate only in areas zoned for hotel/motel use and never has been permitted as a legal use under existing ordinance standards. Traditional seasonal rentals as defined in Chapter 246 shall not be considered to be resort houses.”

Also in Brigantine’s code are the following statements.

“Establishing zones sets boundaries for all to see. They help to preserve peace and set standards, protect property rights and values, ensure the safety of residents and visitors, prevent municipal liabilities which are costly to taxpayers”. Allowing violations to exist makes no sense and is bad government.

Resident Andrea Sullivan deserves our thanks for getting the facts, alerting the public and questioning City Council about these illegal commercial activities in a residential zone.

As part of examining this situation, it has come to light that changes and improvements are needed in our municipal government in the following areas – inadequate rental license application, no follow-up on the use of the license, lack of knowledge of the law by employees, inadequate record-keeping regarding communication with the public, inter-department communication, and the possible need for additional fees and employees regarding rentals.

Short-term rentals are a big business in Brigantine. Active rentals as of today made through AIRBNB AND VRBO total 740, far more than in Ventnor and Margate. This number does not include those made by local real estate people and made privately. The top property managers in Brigantine have more than 50 listings for this commercial use.

City Council needs to act now. Laws shall be enforced. A minimum term of rental will be enacted (week?) and a simple, firm statement made that commercial activities in a residential zone shall not be permitted.

Sincerely, Anne H. Phillips


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