NEW FOR WEDNESDAY: Passionate Debate Held Over Decency Rules In Ocean City; Resort Hesitant To Address Fashion Trends

OCEAN CITY – The potential to regulate indecent fashion choices on the Boardwalk was not included on the Mayor and Council agenda this week, as expected, but a passionate discussion about the resort and recent trends did take place.

A few weeks ago, Councilman Brent Ashley re-introduced the idea to institute legislation that is referred to as the “Droopy Pants Ordinance.” He had initially brought the concept up in 2011 when he presented the council research he had conducted finding a number of municipalities do not allow pants any longer than three inches from the tops of the hips exposing skin or undergarments.

Ashley broached the topic against last month when the City of Wildwood passed an ordinance establishing decency standards on its Boardwalk. The resort’s ordinance specifically states, “The waist-band of shorts, swim-trunks, pants and/or skirt shall not be worn more than 3 inches below the wearer’s waist, interpreted to mean at a level below the crest of the ilium, so as to expose either skin or garment underneath.”

The ordinance continues, “the City of Wildwood has received numerous complaints from residents and visitors who frequent the City’s Boardwalk and consider certain dress, or lack-there-of, of a certain proportion of persons on the Boardwalk as offensive, indecent and alarming to themselves and their children…the City of Wildwood markets its Boardwalk as a family friendly environment with its residents and businesses relying heavily upon the tourism industry…”

Wildwood’s ordinance even requires people to wear shoes and shirts on the Boardwalk, meaning no bathing suits allowed. A citation for not less than $25 can be given to violators with subsequent offenses resulting in higher citation amounts.

The Mayor and City Council agreed to further discuss the matter during this week’s work session. In the meantime, Ashley has been interviewed by many news outlets from newspapers to television.

As Tuesday’s work session approached, the discussion regarding decency on the Boardwalk was removed from the agenda, due to Councilman Joe Mitrecic’s scheduled absence and Council President Lloyd Martin wanting the full council to be present.

Before the council hit the first agenda item, Ashley requested for the discussion to be scheduled for the Mayor and Council’s next regular session on July 15, as he awaits the Tourism Commission’s thoughts and what City Manager David Recor and staff have found in research.

“In addition, in my conversations with the mayor of Wildwood, the mayor has offered to help with input and insight or any other expertise he might offer that might help our decision … because we continue to receive emails with negative comments about how Ocean City has changed. I think all of us, as elected officials, should welcome this discussion as soon as possible … I think we have to move forward and govern with this type of discussion,” Ashley said.

Mayor Rick Meehan interjected once the word “govern” was spoken, disagreeing with the thought governing is led through such dialogue and that the discussion should be placed as a top priority at the height of Ocean City’s peak season.

“This is something that we should think a lot about and what it is that we are really trying to achieve, and what values we are trying to instill upon others in this ever changing world we live in,” the mayor said.

Meehan, along with the rest of the council, has also been receiving emails from individuals who have been relating fashion choices with gang-related activity in Ocean City, and have voiced concerns of how Ocean City is changing, and turning away from its traditional stance of being a family-friendly resort.

“I just have some concerns in how we are going to perceive our community and how we will be perceived during these discussions. Yes, we have some issues we have to address and I think they will be a little bigger issue in what somebody is wearing,” the mayor said. “There is an awful a lot of people out on the Boardwalk … and if we are going to address everybody’s concerns like that I am really not sure who is going to be allowed up there.”

Ashley kept pushing the issue, saying the decency issue on the Boardwalk is not necessarily about what someone is wearing. It is about the position of the elected body, which leads to the perception of Ocean City by its visitors.

“I am concerned about some of the things I see, but I try to be open minded because the world around us has changed … I understand your concerns but I think we all need to look at ourselves and make a decision about how judgmental we want to be about everybody else,” the mayor asserted.

Taking a stance against indecency on the Boardwalk is not judgmental, Ashley responded, but instead maintaining community values.

“My concern, again, as I am sure yours is, obtaining our family visitors. When people tell me they are afraid to take their kids to the Boardwalk, I see a problem there,” he said.

Meehan reiterated his opinion officials need to be careful in how the discussion is approached being mindful of the world everyone lives in today.

“We need to be cognizant of what is happening around us, what is happening in our community and how we can best address it,” he said. “We all have the same goal in life just a different way to go about it addressing it.”

The mayor pointed out that while Wildwood took action by passing an ordinance outlawing indecency on the Boardwalk, it would most likely face challenges ahead in federal court. Ocean City is currently embroiled in a court battle with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on its noise ordinance, and the mayor stated he has no interest in more court appearances due to restricting fashion choices.

“As the mayor of Wildwood told me, people appreciated the fact that they took a positive stance. They have had many people call and email saying they will come back to Wildwood because they took a positive stance. It may not work out but they took a stand,” Ashley said.

Rather than focus on decency issues, Martin said the city needs to focus on more important current events.

“We had a week in Ocean City that was a little unruly … hopefully that is not the norm. I haven’t seen it as the norm in Ocean City … we will get to the bottom of it. We find out who these people are and why they are here. That is what you do. It is not about how somebody dresses,” Martin said.

Martin referred to Ashley’s recent interviews where he has made references to “thugs” in Ocean City.

“In the 70s when I was growing up … people had long hair, and if you had long hair then you must have been a hippie or a dope head. Not everybody who had long hair did drugs. You can’t judge a book by its cover all the time, and that’s what you said on national TV, and that is wrong,” Martin said. “I want a positive message to be sent out there. I want to show that we are going to address the concerns, do the right thing but not jump to conclusions. We need to do it right … You made negative news for the Town of Ocean City … we are continuing in a positive environment and you took a stick [to stir it up] because you like to be on TV.”

Ashley ended the conversation by stating news outlets come to him, he does not seek the attention out.

“I just want to have a discussion,” Ashley said.

The day prior the Tourism Commission met to discuss the potential decency ordinance, and commission members were in consensus that baggy pants is a fashion choice, but one that is fading out. They also felt that the matter shouldn’t be used to draw attention to Ocean City though the news. The commission decided to report to the full council it had no desire to pursue legislation regarding indecency on the Boardwalk.

11 thoughts on “NEW FOR WEDNESDAY: Passionate Debate Held Over Decency Rules In Ocean City; Resort Hesitant To Address Fashion Trends

  1. I visited the life saving museum today. The times sure have changed, but people don’t have to be lazy and should dress to walk the boardwalk.

  2. I started going to Ocean City when I was 12. That was 54 yrs ago. I have seen a lot of changes, some good, some bad. One bad change was eliminating or not reenforcing a proper dress code for the boardwalk area. I remember when we had to wear coverups over our bathing suits & shoes and I wish that was still enforced. Especially considering how little most swimsuits cover a persons body today. I think its respectful to cover up when off the beach. Ocean City is a family beach & that is the tourists you should be considering first. I think when a person dresses & talks respectably they seem to behave the same as well. I think photos could be taken of people, couples, families etc that are properly dressed and then the photos put on the cover or front page of the OC magazines & newspapers. Also maybe the person or persons could be given a gift certificate to be used at a business, gift shop or eatery along with the recognition. I think the dress code should not only be enforced but encouraged through recognition & rewards, so that people take pride in how they look again. This is an issue that I feel OC would be very wise to promote & embrace just as Wildwood has.

  3. Mr. Ashley, we see reports of stabbings on the boardwalk in the vacinity of 18th st. We see reports of shootings in the same area coming from bus passengers. Are the buses no longer safe? Is the boardwalk no longer safe?

    Who gives a crap about how people dress if our visitors are unsafe?

  4. Maybe asking Wildwood how they count their visitors could be more important and a future positive step forward for better fiscal planning???

    Why? Cuz making a rule about clothes does NOTHING about making $$$$$. Unless I’m wrong, more importance is about making money and getting on the TV than rebuilding for a better and brighter future years from now.

    Next few years will still be tough and the sooner everyone realizes that the better our City will be.

    Its silly the time being spent on the clothes issue! Excuse me I must flush my toilet several times again!


  5. I started coming to OC when I was 4 yrs old and have seen many changes. I remember when the hippies hung out at 9th st and my grandpa waited there for my girlfriend and I to walk back to the hotel on 13th st. I agree that something needs to be done about the dress of the young adults on the boardwalk. I am tired of looking at young men showing their underwear and their behinds as they are walking around. I don’t think that my grandaughter needs to be aware of that. I also don’t like young ladies walking around with their bathing suits on and flashing all the young men on the boardwalk. Somewhere common decency went away. These young people have no respect for themselves, much less others. And I have news for the council memebers that baggy pants have nothing to do with gangs. Just look at the gangs and tell me I am wrong. I am tired of my Ocean City going to the dogs because some people are afraid to stand up for common decency. Families are going to Bethany and Rehobeth to get away from our inner city look now. I sure hope the council has the guts to make Ocean City the place that people want to come back to.

  6. Why are people hesitant to this? Who wears stupid droopy pants? Typically the kids who end up causing the trouble…. This is a no brainer. This town has gone down hill fast in the last few years, I welcome anything that will help stabilize the decline!

  7. Mr. Ashley needs to read the commission members consensus,..and move on. This is not the earth shattering challenge facing OC.
    Also,why do you think the media outlets come to him?,..because he’s got the stick to stir…that wasn’t a hard question,..gee move on to real problems and challenges the City faces.

  8. Like Janie, I also was in OC during the Air Show weekend. And my wife and I were very creeped out by the gangs of kids that were prowling on the boardwalk. Many of these thugs were harassing the tram driver – and this was happening well before the sunset.

    This has been something that has been going on for years in OC, and it’s steadily getting worse.

    It used to be that July 4th was an annual brawl at H2O involving seemingly over half of the OC police force being there to attempt to calm things down. One year there was a police beat down of a subject that was resisting arrest during a thunderstorm.


    Kudos to Brent Ashley for attempting to get the current majority to do SOMETHING about bringing a truly family atmosphere back to Ocean City.

    And shame on the mayor for letting personal politics get in the way of standing alongside Mr. Ashley and cleaning up the gang behavior on the boardwalk.

    Oh yea – and SHAME to the mayor for not keeping the new majority in check by not performing a true VETO for the parking meter fiasco, but instead dancing around and using the letter of the law to attempt to show disapproval of the law.

  9. While I don’t agree with Mr. Ashley grandstanding on this, I also don’t agree with the rest of the council turning a blind eye and trying to convince themselves everything is fine. The baggy pants are a symptom, not the problem. Since it’s unlikely they can do anything mid-season, I don’t understand why they don’t give the new chief time to settle in and then get his input on how best to address these issues. Any new ordinance is useless if the OCPD isn’t involved with a plan for enforcement.

  10. Mr.Ashley, I really hope you’re kidding!!! This is beyond ridiculous. So, will we also be banning thongs on the beach – personally, I choose not to see someone’s a** COMPLETELY exposed, but, well, there they are! Let me tell you something, I am an OCMD resident – local cops have been tied up with arresting people for the dumbest things & tying up the courts & you want to bring in a LAW against droopy pants. OMG we are laughing at you up North here. I will also share that I have two sons in their late 20’s – one is a civil engineer, the other works in cyber security – guess what…when they are at home at the beach, they wear “droopy pants” & they also ride a skateboard! Stop “travoning” our young people & worry about the high drug crimes in this city that most tourists know nothing about – I still can’t believe it – my tax dollars at waste – yet again.

  11. I was there during the Air Show weekend. I was actually alarmed, for the first time, being on the Boardwalk. There were several large groups of youths going by, usually all male. These groups consisted of 8 to a dozen or so young men walking along NOT with a relaxed “I’m on vacation” kind of look on their faces. They weren’t talking with each other or smiling. They looked stern and serious. Frankly, they were scary. I’ve never seen this phenomenon on the Boardwalk before. I remember thinking how the Ocean City experience is apparently changing, and not in a good way. It just gave me a bad feeling in my gut. And yes, some of them were wearing the hanging down pants thing with their underwear showing. It’s not a good feeling to be walking along, as I was with my daughter, and seeing a large group of menacing-looking young men going by. I actually remember thinking about which way we should run if some trouble should occur.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>