Tents Or Not? You Be The Judge.

I’m not the only one who noticed an invasion of pop-up tents this summer.

A recent “06880” post about summer crowds at Compo drew a number of comments about the pup tents, lean-tos and other space-filling mini-homes that have, in the words of one Westporter, turned our beach into a “tent city.”

(Another commenter, more charitably, compared it to the Caribbean.)

Of course this is not Compo. We don’t have a volleyball court in the middle of the beach.

Turns out it’s not just Westport.

According to the New York Post, a Jersey Shore town — Belmar — is considering banning all tents more than 3 feet high and wide.

Officials there have several concerns:

  • The tents block visibility
  • They take up too much space
  • They’re invasive
  • They cast long shadows
  • They obstruct the view of lifeguards.

One disgruntled beachgoer described his neighbors: “They bring tables, coolers. It looks like they’re moving in for a week.”

Another noted that tailgating is fine at MetLife Stadium. But, he said, the beach is not a Giants game.

What do you think? Take the poll below:

(To read the full New York Post story, click here. Hat tip: David Loffredo)

25 responses to “Tents Or Not? You Be The Judge.

  1. Susan Iseman

    Looks so silly. I’m glad I’m not out there broiling my baby oil slathered skin anymore ha-ha. A friend & I took our lunch and sand chairs and enjoyed Burying Hill Beach last week for a couple of hours. Nary a tent there. Such a hidden gem.

  2. Ernest Lorimer

    The Times version picked up the new term for it from the Philadelphia Inquirer: “beachspreading”.

    Taken to a whole new level by Governor Christie.

  3. Ruth Donohue

    While I don’t like the giant, full headroom, tents, when we’re on the beach for more than a couple hours we do bring a “sportbrella”-big umbrella that lies on its side. It gives us some extra sun protection, especially for the couple of family members who are more sensitive. Would hope for a compromise that still allows for this and smaller tents, cabanas (think keeping smaller children from too much sun) but limits the more egregious beach-spread.

    “We had a guy last year bring in a coffin. I’m not lying, a wooden coffin with his food and his drinks and so forth. And we said, ‘No we can’t have that.”
    ANTHONY VAZ, the mayor of Seaside Heights, N.J., on the proliferation of accessories carried by beachgoers competing for space.

  5. At times, it seems to me we are becoming a town of demanding and intolerant residents. The tents may not be exactly what we have seen in the past. But inside may be someone with serious cancer, Or someone who needs a nap.. . or the family could not be there.

    • If that is the case, I am sure exceptions can be made, like handicap parking, but it seems like we have survived as a functional beach going society for over a hundred years with umbrella that at least didn’t block the view of others and create a maze effect!

  6. Perhaps the tents could be set further back on the beach – right off of the boardwalk? That way they won’t obstruct the lifeguard views or other beach goers? I’ve noticed that even sport umbrellas don’t provide a lot of shade – especially for a family. And if there are little ones with sensitive skin – or older ones – then a roomy tent is a nice solution.

  7. Bart Shuldman

    Dan-I wonder how much of this is due to the ongoing concern of skin cancer. Would there be a way to limit the size of a tent but also allow tents to provide those a relief from the sun that we know is very damaging.

    I know I will be in the minority, but there is something nice about a Westport family bringing a full days worth of food and chairs, etc, and a small tent for coverage so they can spend all day at THEIR beach. JMHO.

  8. The only potential problem I see is blocking a lifeguard’s view of the water. No 6-7 foot “tents” between the stand and the water seems to be a simple solution but then this is Westposh where everything is a federal case. There’s plenty of sand area from Schlaet’s corner to the cannons.

  9. David J. Loffredo

    If you go to Shakespeare on the Sound, the people with blankets sit in the front, behind them are the rows of low chairs followed by the rows of high chairs. I suggest you limit these structures to the back of the beach, open up the front for those who want to lie in the sun, and provide better sight lines for lifeguards.

    • Bart Shuldman

      David. So logical. Your posts are always so logical and spot on. Thank you.

      Maybe time for you to head Parks and Rec?

  10. Elaine Marino

    One of the comments to the NY Times article about this issue states:

    “When I lived in Westport, CT years ago town beaches required a beach sticker to park in the lots. The sticker was expensive and it did keep out neighboring populations. Then vans would drive along the roadway facing the beach disgorging crowds of kids et al. The beach became crowded. There was a “no children” end of the beach. Greenwich had a very restricted beach open only to residents. The problem with these small town beaches is lack of space.”

    Is it true that Compo had a “no children” section at one time?

    • Not that I can recall. However, longtime residents of Soundview Drive say that back in the day, the beach in front of their homes was informally considered “private.” That went by the wayside long ago.

  11. Michael Calise

    Many sensible people will tell you the beach is better September thru May

  12. Bill Boyd (Staples 1966)

    Restrict tents to a set back insuring clear sight lines for lifeguards and parents.
    No wall tents…

  13. Chip Stephens. Staples 73

    NBD. Until the wind kicks up and those sharp umbrella spikes and tent stakes and supports start flying to the towels and the people next-door don’t laugh it happens we see it all the time

  14. The Parks & Rec Department has given over 50 permits for events such as a wedding and corporate outings on the beach (the largest with 275 people in attendance). They bring in commercial tents and food trucks in addition to sound systems that many residents complain about. Not only can I complain today about the nuisance of tents, but we have a real trash issue taking place as well. Where I sit on the southwest side of Compo (by the two small trees) you will see plastic and garbage mixed in with rocks. Why? Multiple times this summer trash is being removed from the east beach to the southwest side and dumped roughly 15 yards from the trees. Is this the best Parks & Rec can do? Dropping trash on the shore of the Long Island Sound and where the residents sit is a real problem.

    Compo Beach is starting to look like a hardship. Why can’t we keep Compo Beach clean? Why are we allowing so many events at Compo Beach? How does having these events benefit the residents of Westport who pay taxes and buy a beach sticker?
    Please respect and clean up what we have before it is beyond repair.

  15. Adam Goldberg

    The issue with tents and garbage all relate in my mind back to the biggest problem going on at Compo this year which is a clearly absurd policy of allowing so many out of town and out of state vehicles to enter the lots. Westport beaches should be for tax paying residents and their guests, and I see no reason why we should be accommodating so many out of towners. Think about it, if I was going to spend $50 to park my car at the beach, I’m going to show up early and leave late. To do that I need a full tent, multiple coolers, chairs and such. Locals often just go to the beach for a couple hours and then head home or to other plans to escape the sun. Such full setups are not needed for locals other than on fireworks day. maybe next year we should limit the guest stickers to 20 a day and we will see less of this mess. There were more NY license plates at compo today than Westport stickers.

  16. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    It’s kind of basic logic: If you’re concerned about skin cancer then don’t expose your skin to the sun. Which is more logical: wearing a hat/t-shirt in the sun or hiding under a tent? Once again, people going into public places with no consideration for other people. Congratulations on doing something about a significant health risk but think/act with a little logic behind it.

  17. I have had skin cancer issues for years. There are numerous preventative steps one can take that do NOT include sitting under a tent, so that’s not a good argument at all. Unfortunately, the “tent people” tend to stake up by the water and then “chair spread” in a manner that would have made the Sooners racing for land out West proud. As usual, common sense and courtesy should prevail. Everyone has an opinion but a modest tent isn’t the end of the world. However, it should also be staked toward the back of the beach (ie, AWAY from the water’s edge) so lifeguards have better visibility and the “beach properties” created are somewhat away from the large majority of people who bring a blanket and/or chair and want to have a more traditional day at the beach.

  18. Audrey Hertzel

    What happens when a gust of wind makes these tents or umbrellas a flying weapon? Who is responsible for the injuries they may inflict? Apparently, weights (which are available) are not required to keep this from happening…until it does happen…maybe.

  19. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    You want to sit in a tent? Go camping. You want to sit on a beach? Wear sunblock.