Most Jersey Shore towns have ordinances on the books that prohibit individuals from sleeping overnight in their vehicles.
While occasionally the source of controversy – often involving “sleeping one off” after drinking too much or simple vagrancy – such measures are almost universally adopted in local communities. In Seaside Heights, however, the practice was technically legal – it was just that no one knew about it.
Recently, a person sleeping in their car was told he was not allowed to do so by a police officer. After a discussion, the officer went to write a ticket, and called his supervisor to make sure the correct ordinance violation was recorded on the summons.
“When they went looking in the code book, what they thought was there, wasn’t there,” said Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz.
Years ago, pre-dating his current tenure as administrator, the borough redesigned its code book to ensure local ordinances complied with various court orders and state policies that had been adopted. Along the way, however, some local ordinances did not find their way back after the editing process, Vaz said.
The ordinance prohibits a person from sleeping in a vehicle overnight on both public and private property, except for RVs that are legally parked.
The borough council introduced the ordinance unanimously last week, and the “new” law is expected to be adopted on second reading following a public hearing later this month.
Likewise, the borough council introduced another ordinance that had not previously made it into the code book. That ordinance prohibits attaching ropes, strings, bungee cords or similar objects to railings on the boardwalk.
“We have problems with people doing that, believe it or not,” said Vaz. “Code [Enforcement] was trying to deal with this recently, but there really wasn’t anything on the books that specifically prohibited it.”
That ordinance, too, was introduced with a unanimous vote and is expected to be adopted on second reading following a public hearing at the council’s June 26 meeting.