July 4, 2008

10 Shore Towns Raise Beach Fees

By Adrienne Lu, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Jul. 4--Ten of the 48 towns along the Jersey Shore have raised their beach fees since last year, according to a report released yesterday by the state Public Advocate's office.

Public Advocate Ronald K. Chen's third annual New Jersey Beach Guide, available online, offers consumers information on the cost, facilities and amenities available at the state's public beaches.

No towns have decreased their fees since last year and none continue to offer residency discounts. While most towns charge between $4 and $7 for a daily pass, some charge from $8 to $12. Seven towns offer free public beaches. And more towns are now offering seasonal badges before the start of the season.

"New Jersey has some of the best beaches in the world, but there are significant variations in terms of access fees and amenities available to the public," Chen said. "This consumer-friendly guide tells you where to go, where to park and how much, if anything, it will cost you to enjoy these beautiful beaches."

The guide includes information such as whether the beaches are accessible to the disabled and offer parking, changing rooms, restrooms or lifeguard coverage.

Previous public advocates in New Jersey have gone to court to fight for the public's access to beaches. Some have also recommended the state take a more uniform approach to ensure beach access to all New Jerseyans, including capping fees and studying the feasibility of having the state purchase beaches to ensure uniform access.

Laurie Brewer, a spokeswoman for the Public Advocate's office, said that while the office is monitoring beach fees for trends, it is not actively engaged in any litigation on the issue.

She noted that fees vary widely and that they tend to be lower in far South Jersey than in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

The Public Advocate's office plans to update the guide later in the summer to include 40 private beach clubs.

Fifty years ago, the state Legislature granted Shore towns the right to charge fees to cover the cost of maintaining the beaches.

Contact staff writer Adrienne Lu at 609-989-8990 or [email protected]


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