A new ordinance bans large tents and canopies on the beaches during the summer season at a popular Jersey Shore destination.
The restrictions in Monmouth County's Belmar take effect next year. Mayor Matt Doherty says the big tents won't be allowed between Memorial Day and Labor Day because of complaints that they take up too much space and could endanger public safety.
"There were folks taking these tents and putting them right down by the water, which would obstruct the view as people were looking into the water. God forbid there was a swimmer in distress and if we didn't see them behind the tent for some reason, that could be life threatening."
Doherty believes more shore towns will consider similar bans. Some already have.
Avon-by-the-Sea hasn't allowed tents on its beaches for two summer seasons and
borough administrator Kerry McGuigan says it hasn't hurt tourism.
"We haven't noticed any effect. We've had a lot of people still coming to our beaches. People can still just bring an umbrella if those chose to seek shelter from the sun."
Sea Isle City director of community services Katherine Custer says officials there are pondering possible restrictions on beach tents, but she’s hearing mixed public sentiment about that idea.
“A very few people have mentioned that they do feel that some of the larger popup tents are in fact too large and they block people’s views of the ocean and will take up a lot of space. But I’ve also heard people say that they don’t find the popup tents offensive and if you want to get a good spot at the beach you should just arrive earlier in the day.”