Keep an eye on proposed Rehoboth ordinance


There are a few ways to easily get a rise out of people in this community.

One could start by opining what should be done with the old Harris Teeter building near Salt Pond, as if anybody really had a right to determine what goes there without writing a very large check or making an impassioned case on zoning restrictions. Want to get a conversation going in a local bar? Just state loudly enough so at least three people could hear that you heard the building is going to be used as a national box store or indoor cliff-diving facility, take a step back and watch the carnage unfold.

Another way to get things going is to casually suggest that you’ve really liked living here for the past six months, but there are so many things you’d want to change. Tip from your buddy Darin: Wear a helmet when offering that little nugget, particularly if you are surrounded by a group of fourth-generation locals. You could also sport a T-shirt emblazoned with “Local” across the chest when you get out of a car with out-of-state plates to get the same desired effect.

Of course, if controversy is your game, you could stand in any crowded area and proclaim you have seen the Selbyville Swamp Monster, offer that the State spends too much money on Sussex County issues or that DelDOT is a well-oiled machine that knows what’s best for our community at any given time. Also known to work: Argue with the next person you see in green and gold that Indian River High School should change the name of its mascot or that the schools just have too much darn money at their disposal.

One sure way to get people’s attention is to mention an idea that could lead to hurting our property rental industry. Rentals lead to vacationers, which leads to restaurants and shops getting traffic, which leads to restaurant and shop owners hiring more people, which leads to more money being spent throughout our local economy. It also means more rental properties being built by local workers, more remodeling efforts being performed by contractors and more people just generally contributing to what makes this community so strong in the first place.

In short, we rely on our visitors to the beach each year. Even if you say your particular company does not cater to vacationers, it does. The local people who do commerce with you could not do so if there was no money in town.

It’s all pretty basic.

Up the road in Rehoboth Beach, there is some controversy brewing over this very issue in the form of a proposed pool ordinance, and that ordinance is scheduled to be voted on by Town commissioners on Friday, June 19. Tomorrow night, if you are reading this on Thursday. Tonight, if it is now Friday. And, well, you missed the boat if it’s any later than that.

The pool ordinance comes with a controversial amendment that would require rental property owners to have a rental license or a pool license, but not both, according to the Cape Gazette. “New rental license holders with pools would have to lock the pools,” the story reads. “Current rental owners with pools would have three years to comply with the new law.” By the way, “pool owners” in the ordinance includes hot tub and spa owners.

Apparently, this comes from a series of complaints from residents regarding the noise made by renters who enjoy the pools at the properties they are renting. That is a point I understand well, as it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep when people are partying next door to you all night, especially if you have to get up early in the morning.

However...

This is a community reliant on vacationers. It is a competitive market, and those renting their homes need every advantage they can get. My family vacationed in the Outer Banks this past May. Think we decided on a certain town before we started looking and went from there? No, we went online to a rental company, selected “dog-friendly” and “hot tub” in the query, along with our desired price, and chose from the list before us.

Our vacation loyalty went with where we could get the vacation we wanted. Plain and simple.

Could this end up being a good thing for the Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island rental market? Sure, at least in the short term. Prospective renters could simply click on “hot tubs” on the site of one our major rental companies and end up with a place in Bethany.

But if you think this couldn’t lead to pressure on local councils from residents to adopt a similar ordinance in the future, you’re not paying attention. No, there aren’t a lot of rental properties in our beach towns with pools, but there are plenty with hot tubs. And there are plenty of people who want to enjoy what they now have without having to hear vacationers next door. And that could lead down a very complicated road.