Seaside Heights may introduce age limit for booking rooms
SEASIDE HEIGHTS — Over his five years as borough administrator, traveling from city to city in hopes of attracting more visitors, Christopher Vaz has heard the same excuse from hundreds and hundreds of families — we don't like the crowd and rowdiness in Seaside Heights.
That poor image is something officials have been attempting to change for quite some time now. But this past Memorial Day weekend served as the straw that broke the camel's back, and Vaz wants to put an end, once and for all, to "the craziness that occurs this time of year with prom and graduation parties in Seaside Heights motels/hotels and apartments."
As early as next week, it's expected the mayor and Borough Council will start discussing a proposal to set a minimum age for renting a room. The proposal from Vaz would prohibit rentals to anyone under 21, unless they're accompanied by an adult or legal guardian, or have proof of emancipation. Currently the borough has no age limit on the books.
"Said age is set to deter security issues associated with underage drinking, violence and vandalism," Vaz said in a Facebook post, which received dozens of comments in support of the proposal.
Vaz said he personally observed a high school-aged girl "whacked out on some kind of drug" near the backstage area of a free concert event on May 25. Officials called for medical help and she was transported to a hospital.
Two days later, according to the Asbury Park Press, the Karma nightclub was the site of four calls for underage drinking and six overdoses. Borough officials are currently in the process of trying to deny Karma its liquor license.
Vaz's proposal would also ban the sale of wristbands to individuals who aren't officially registered as occupants of a room, and officials would be directed to strictly enforce occupancy limits and fire code requirements.
"I think once the word is out that Seaside is not necessarily in that teenager prom business anymore, families are going to want to come back," Vaz told New Jersey 101.5.
Several motels and hotels in Seaside Heights, which count on teens for plenty of business in May and June, did not respond to a request for comment. Vaz said it's not the town's obligation to "put people in motels," but to create a friendly environment so more people are interested in visiting and booking rooms.
"Motels rent to them because it's easy money, the police department and EMS do the babysitting, public works does the cleanup in the morning, and the taxpayers of Seaside Heights foot the bill," Vaz said. "That's got to change."
Before official ordinances are adopted or introduced, Vaz said, the borough will likely gather reports from police and other officials who can point to an uptick in calls during the weekends when "children" are booking rooms.