New Jersey, the nation's most densely populated state, is rewriting public beach access rules that may pit some beach towns against beach loving' out-of-towners.
The state stepped in and gave more local control over beach access to local communities after a court decision struck down more stringent rules that would have meant uniform standards for each shore town. New Jersey felt that it could accomplish more by working with shore towns individually and give them flexibility rather than dictating a one-size-fits-all access policy.
Most New Jersey beach towns require surfers to buy and wear beach badges costing anywhere from $5 to $12 a day, regardless of how long they are in the water. Tourism in New Jersey is a $35 billion industry. About 67 million people visited the state last year and many ended up at the beaches.
Of the approximately 125 miles of New Jersey oceanfront about 95% to 98% is accessible to the general public. New Jersey estimates that there are over 1,000 access points to the shore.
New Jersey will need to balance the rights and needs of the beach towns and the beach loving out-of-towners.