City Zoning Change Would Be Shameful
I am the owner of 1513 Teal Drive since 2005. I have sent the substance of this letter to the members of the Planning and Zoning Office, the City Council and the mayor. I purchased the house as a Starker Exchange, and the settlement attorney told me rentals were not allowed, as the neighborhood no longer had restrictions on renting. Shortly after I moved into the house, I engaged a Realtor to handle my rentals, and he installed a sign in front of my house. Within a few days, the sign was taken away without my knowledge, and I discovered it behind some bushes in back of the house. After a short time, the sign went missing again, and I found it floating in the bay.
The settlement attorney said that one owner was very mad at seeing my property up for rent, and he had told the owner that rentals were allowed on Mallard Island. This was my first and, fortunately only, encounter with vandalism on Mallard Island. But the current debate shows that history repeats itself. At least this time it is being done without violating the law. Or is it? The recent story in your paper about negative reaction and behavior of some Mallard Island residents when an African-American family rented another house on Mallard Island makes me wonder how respectful some people are of equal rights and opportunity, not to speak of common courtesy and respect for one another.
Over the past 10 years, I have made the house available for rent on a weekly basis during the summer months and the rental record has been roughly 50% of the summer season. Only one family over those 10 years presented a problem: a neighbor brought it to my attention and the issue was resolved.
I understand the needs of homeowners for peace and tranquility and for security in their houses. I do not understand the views of those who assert that renters violate these standards.
I object to the proposed R-1A Single Family Residential District change for Mallard Island for the following reasons:
- It appears to be based on highly personal interests, not the reasons adduced in the statements attributed to Mallard Island residents. According to an editorial in The Dispatch, one is quoted as asserting that short-term rentals violate “family values and youth values”. The owner also is quoted as saying, “…and to avoid the adverse effects of transient short-term rentals”. On what basis is this assertion made: do they mean that renters have different values from owners? This is absurd on the face of it. Renters who can afford Mallard Island prices are of the same caliber (“class”, if you will) as the residents of Mallard Island. Let’s be honest: “Family and youth values” are code words for: “We don’t want any people on Mallard Island whom we perceive as different from us.” Such an attitude is wrong, goes against our fundamental values of equality and freedom, and is unconstitutional.
- The basis of Ocean City’s economy is tourism. The permanent population is a fraction of the summer population. Most employment is related to the high volume of summer occupants and visitors. Why should residents of Mallard Island be considered any differently? The great majority of them are there because of Ocean City’s dynamic tourism industry.
- I bought the house based on a Starker Exchange, which stipulates that the property is for investment purposes. If I am no longer allowed to rent, this change will entail severe financial penalties. If this happens, I will seek legal redress for any costs incurred as a result of this action.
- Finally, I endorse The Dispatch’s editorial position: this measure has been generated to benefit a small number of people. The behavior of those Mallard Island residents pushing for this change is shameful. As your paper reported, some of them went so far as to snap photos of an African-American family using the pool of another owner-renter. As someone who has spent most of his adult life and career working on Africa, I am ashamed at this outrageous behavior. 10 years ago, I had only to deal with a stolen sign. Recently, a perfectly proper and well-behaved family enjoying an extended family reunion was subject to the most brutish behavior possible. This was followed up by a hate letter sent to the owner, as described in The Dispatch article. Such behavior makes me ashamed of those neighbors. I am confident that this kind of demonstration represents only a tiny minority of Mallard Island residents.
- I have learned that there are only two owners who offer their homes to short-term renters. All this fuss is being generated over the totally legal actions of two of Mallard Island’s many residents. This proposal must be voted down. To pass it is nothing short of shameful.
Positive Solutions Needed For Cruisin
(The following letter was addressed to the Ocean City Mayor and Council with a copy forwarded to this publication.)
I have been a businessman working in Ocean City since 1999 and feel I have a strong connections to the citizens and workers in Ocean City. I have read and heard many complaints about Cruisin and the bad behavior associated with this event. I also know and understand that this is an economic driver early in the season so I do not advocate anything but positive ideas to improve the situations so everybody is happier.
- Request the promoter include in the registration package warnings that trailers cannot park on the streets and block sidewalks and walkways. Give the people two hours to unload then they must be moved to a location off street for parking. This problem can be solved by using the Park and Ride, the airport lot and the fenced in area at the airport for parking. Also the city could enlist the 94th Street Mall, White Marlin Mall and maybe Walmart to allow trailers to be stored at their lots for this event. All trailers left on the street over two hours should be ticketed and after four hours towed. Once word gets out, the trailers will disappear.
- Place electric signs on Route 50, Route 90, Route 54 and Route 1 warning about trailers and aggressive behavior.
- Place police cars at the foot of Routes 50, 90, 54 and 1 with the light bars flashing as a reminder that the police are indeed on the job. Make the police visible on Coastal Highway and ticket drivers who break the laws. Stop people from blocking sidewalks with chairs and tables who encourage this bad behavior.
If you want to start a group to study and recommend remedial solutions, I would be willing to help.
We all want peace and quiet and we should allow for some excessiveness, but not to the detriment of our lives.
Changes Needed To Save OC Reputation
(The following letter was addressed to Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and copy sent to this publication.)
My husband and I have owned a condo in North Ocean City since 1996. We bought it to experience quiet times for ourselves and our family and enjoy the beach. We spend a week over the 4th of July with our children and grandchildren to have picnics and watch the fireworks at Northside Park from our balcony because Ocean City has always been a resort for families.
We also come to OC all year, enjoying the restaurants, shopping and all Ocean City has to offer. However, we made the mistake (again) of being in town during Cruisin week this year. And this year it was the worst I can ever remember. We will not be in town again during this event. Friday night I was kept awake until 4 in the morning due to enormously loud squealing of tires and motors of the cars.
We realize that bringing events to Ocean City brings income to the city. However, with events like Cruisin, I question if the money is worth it when it chases property owners out of town. I sympathize with the police during these events, as I’m sure they have been told to go easy on the cruisers. But heaven forbid if we needed an ambulance or the police to come to our condo, we would be out of luck. So it also affects the safety of the citizens of Ocean City. And I think the safety issue should be of utmost concern to you and your administration.
So as not to complain without offering solutions, perhaps this event could be held in April or October. Also, there should be an end time to the loud noise in the evening, say about 10 or 11 p.m. when cruisers are told ahead of time that after that time they will be responsible for any noise, open drinking, etc. and will be arrested if they don’t comply. If they are held to the rules, they will eventually learn not to break the law.
We love Ocean City. We would hate to see its reputation go away from the great family destination it now enjoys because of events like Cruisin.
Gwen S. Miller