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The Delaware Valley Beat

Observations, posts and commentary from

Part 1 Playing the Sandy lottery
Part 2 Elections have consequences even for small businesses.

Part 1 Playing the Sandy Lottery

Comments on and excerpts from an article by Jacqueline L. Urgo, Inquirer Staff Writer, Thursday, February 21, 2013, 5:50 AM

The north end of Ocean City (New Jersey) is enjoying a beach replenishment project, part of an ongoing process where the federal government squanders money to insure that beach home and beach town business enjoy boom times. While I do admit that this is an important part of the economy, for New Jersey  it is not a federal issue. Somebody explain to me please how someone in Iowa can pass judgement on the merits of this expenditure? Because they are contributing.

 

City officials said that the north-end project was in the works even before the storm struck and that they are unsure what federal aid might be forthcoming to do more right away.
That’s not a good enough explanation for south-end homeowners, many of whom also depend on vacation-rental income.

One of the big bugaboos here in the Delaware Valley has been the relatively recent revenue generation plan of “beach tags”. Cities take in lots of money from visitors. Local business get high volume traffic, which keeps real estate values high, parking fees contribute huge amounts (in my opinion) since most towns charge by the minute to park anywhere near the beach during the season. All of this was supposed to go to keep the beaches “pristine”, create dunes as barriers (not sure against what) and replenish the sand if required. So why so much reliance on federal bail outs to do what the cities and towns should have been saving to do (or purchasing insurance against) with these fees. Parking fees, beach fees. (Perhaps they were used for “pocket” replenishment projects to expand Democrat political patronage roles and insure pristine victories. /Snark off)

“Even before Sandy hit, most of the beach there was already under water at high tide. Now it’s all the time. . . . Now it’s dangerous,” (Thad) Kirk said, citing flooding concerns.

Uhm, wait a minute. According to this source the small business people and multimillion dollar beach front house owners that depend on “rentals and tourists” for income knew that the beaches were just about gone, not because of Sandy but because of the normal natural forces at work. Not that Sandy wasn’t a natural force, just that it was an extreme rather than normal natural occurrence. So, common sense says if you are a business person and you depend on a natural resource, you invest your profits (at least a portion of them) in preserving or exploiting that resource, right? What is different about this that the natural resource is supposed to be preserved by the general public to enrich an exclusive list of beneficiaries rather then those owners providing the funds themselves?

Officials contend they are working on a solution and waiting for direction – and Sandy relief aid – from the federal government.

Why? If this is your livelihood and if the value of your property is tied inextricably to the conditions of the beach why wait for federal aid. Fix it, lien the property owners property and move on. When I was young, the city of Philadelphia decided to extend sewer lines to the far northeast section of the city where my house was located. They didn’t ask us if we could afford it, or if we needed it, they simply said, you will pay “such and such amount” which we will collect, or lien against your property and begin the process of sheriff selling it to recover the expense. Seems simple enough. Just fix the problem and lien the properties. Sell them for unpaid assessments. Of course I don’t understand why the owners were not assessed to keep of the beaches and let them pass that on to their customers. Or knowing what tax rates are in New Jersey I don’t understand why the owners who saw their high taxes being in part because of their location near the beach, let the government take that tax money and not maintain the beaches. But that is their problem.

Ocean City’s south end was among the hardest-hit areas in Cape May and Atlantic Counties when the storm roared ashore Oct. 29, crumbling bridges and sections of boardwalks, damaging homes and businesses, and washing away protective dunes and chunks of beachfront along New Jersey’s 127-mile coastline.
In spots along the mile-long stretch in Ocean City between 50th and 59th Streets, there is virtually no beach left. At high tide, waves lap over the bulkhead that separates the beachfront from the street ends and the backyards of houses lining the sea, sometimes flooding those yards.
Eight-foot-high dunes, which once protected against such flooding, are gone. Another storm could mean widespread flooding for the entire south end, which is less than a quarter-mile across at its widest point.
“All of the homes in the south end have been left completely vulnerable . . . and there is no plan to do anything about it,” said Kirk, saying Ocean City could earn a black eye if vacationers turned away from still-devastated North Jersey beach towns look for a place to vacation here.

Now that is a revelation! Thad Kirk, in his quote above indicated that the owners knew the beaches where in bad shape. They knew they had been allowed to deteriorate even before Sandy. And Jacqueline L. Urgo of the Inquirer states that the same area of the City was “was among the hardest-hit areas in Cape May and Atlantic Counties when the storm roared ashore”. Do you see a pattern of cause and effect? Owners failed to maintain the natural resource that their livelihood or property value depends upon and more importantly their safety depended upon. Yet rather than scraping together the cash needed to protect their multimillion dollar houses, and their business,  they chose to wait for an opportunity to get the federal government to fix the beach or possibly just wait until a disaster hits to take advantage of American generosity.

I would pay more taxes this year, a reasonable sum anyway, to see the beach restored, with one caveat. All beach fees for state residents are reduced to $1.00 per year for state residents.  Of course, I expect the state to pay for it. And if we have to get rid of the EPA in Washington as the price of that freedom, well that wouldn’t bother me at all.

And that brings me to this little tidbit of information.  I can’t help but laugh out loud at the thought of what this must be doing to the people who have been bludgeoning the public with this gambit to keep the property exclusive. Read that to mean “keep non-residents off the beach”.

 

environmental concerns about the endangered nesting piping plover, with a nesting season directly on the beachfront that begins March 15 and runs through August, could also thwart any plans for an immediate beach fill. The bird tends to prefer the less populous south end.
– Mike Dattilo, the city’s business administrator

It sounds to me like the environmentalist’s chickens have come home to roost, Only this time they arrive dressed as piping plovers.

PART 2 Elections have consequences even for small businesses.
Comments on an excerpts from an article by JAN RANSOM, Daily News Staff Writer ransomj@phillynews.com, titled AVI likely to take a big toll on small businesses. AVI stands for actual value initiative.

EAST PASSYUNK AVENUE was not always the vibrant South Philly commercial corridor it is today, with its chic boutiques, cafes and trendy restaurants. Just ask chef Lynn Rinaldi.

Rinaldi, 48, grew up on 12th Street near Tasker, not too far from the bustling strip where she and her husband own two restaurants, Izumi and Paradiso. And she could be hit particularly hard under the Actual Value Initiative, a new property-tax system based on market values.

The three-story building where Paradiso is situated, on Passyunk near Tasker Street, was assessed at $100,000 for 2013 and valued at $505,000 for 2014. Under a 1.25 percent tax rate, her $3,126 tax bill would jump to $6,312.

“People started to invest in the neighborhood, and now there are 30 restaurants along the strip,” Rinaldi said. “And the payback is, eight years later I pay double taxes.” Rinaldi said that she’ll either have to charge more at her restaurant or trim employee hours.

Rinaldi is not alone. According to data from City Controller Alan Butkovitz, 73 percent of the 5,148 commercial properties that will see tax increases under AVI are properties between 1,000 and 10,000 square feet and include restaurants, funeral homes, auto-repair shops and small grocery stores. Roughly 34 percent, or 2,321, of those small properties will see tax increases of more than $1,000.

The areas that the author is talking about were in fact run down, affordable areas not long ago. Pioneers in redevelopment like Rinaldi helped turn the values around and benefit from increased traffic, increased desirability and increased property values. This is part of the great American dream. But being successful doesn’t come without its responsibilities. We know the rewards. I am all for small business but we are talking about a small business in an industry known for its exploitation of cheap labor, as well as providing opportunities for employees of exceptional ability to earn decent if not good wages. Usually without concern over national origin or legal status. And it is in a big blue city. Big blue cities want people to pay for the Democrat patronage machine benefits, so why are we as Republicans concerned about local taxes on local businesses? It isn’t like anyone there votes Republican. I don’t recall Renaldi being a big Romney advocate.
Well the truth is I do care. I care to see the cost of local government borne by the beneficiaries of that government. And Rinaldi can’t deny that the policies of the city administration have led in part to her success. She is in the heart of a redevelopment area that is booming now, and very close to the sports complex that contains all the major sports venues. I am for protecting small businesses from the avarice of the federal government, but local government is not our problem.
Maybe Rinaldi will realize that the people that are getting elected are not her friends. Or not

Oh if you are curious it is pronounced “Pash-yunk” by natives.

WmCraig
Thoughts from “Out of the Blue”

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