Beach Patrol Cracking Down On Those Big Tents Everyone Else Around You Hates

Image courtesy of ricky.montalvo

Sure, you may love taking in all the sights and sounds of the beach from the shade of your own personal tent, but let’s face it: Everyone else around you is probably annoyed that you’ve set up a portable shelter that may block others from enjoying the beach. In one oceanside city, beach police have started cracking down on these oversized tents as part of a new law.

Spurred by concerns about public safety and aesthetics, the seaside town of Rehoboth Beach, DE, recently passed a new ordinance that effectively bans the use of beach tents, with exceptions for small baby tents (no taller or wider than 36″), and special events like weddings.

Even though this rule (read all about it in this handy PDF) went into effect in May, some Rehoboth beachgoers are still trying to erect their tents on the sand. The Wall Street Journal reports that the local beach patrol is responding by enforcing the umbrellas-only policy.

According to officials, it’s easier for lifeguards and first responders to navigate around single-pole umbrellas in the event of an emergency situation in the water. Canopies with walls can also be used to conceal smoking or alcohol consumption.

Since the start of the beach season on May 27, officials have had 840 tent “takedowns” as police call them. Lifeguards can alert police if people don’t comply, but thus far officials have only written three $25 tickets.

“We keep it short and simple,” one lifeguard tasked with keeping beachgoers in line said, noting that the police captain “doesn’t want us getting into altercations.”

Not everyone is aware of the new rules, as one beachgoer who was told he had to take down his 8-by-10 foot tent called it “Freakin’ ridiculous” in response.

“New city ordinance, it’s a little bit of a learning curve,” an officer replied, noting that umbrella rentals cost just $12 per day.

Rehoboth Beach isn’t the only seaside spot cracking down on oversized tents — Myrtle Beach, SC, officials instituted a similar ban in recent years.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.