Regarding the Sept. 26 editorial, "Ocean City master plan/Wanted: Families":
The editorial was absolutely wrong in supporting building single-family homes in Ocean City.
One need only look to Long Beach Island, where the planning and land use boards long ago encouraged only single-family homes and encouraged the destruction of hundreds of duplexes. The result has been a huge population decline, a huge decline in the number of tourists, substantial harm to the local business community and escalating home prices, which deter more year-round families.
The reason families don't live on barrier islands is primarily because of high living costs and a lack of good jobs. Home prices and rents are extremely high relative to the mainland, not only due to supply and demand but also due to complicated building codes and flood and homeowner's insurance.
Other than overstaffed and expensive local governments, there are few employers to offer decent jobs on the islands. The island schools can't provide the socialization or educational opportunities of the large mainland schools. Building supplies, shopping malls, large grocery stores, specialty medical care, bowling, movies, golf and dining options are not readily available. People will live where they can readily access these things at a reasonable cost.
Encouraging more single-family homes is a surefire way to accelerate the decline of full-time population, hurt tourism and drive up real estate costs. Officials should be looking at how to provide affordable housing (perhaps condos or four-six unit apartments), create decent non-government jobs, and reduce the regulatory burden and the overall size and cost of government.
Brecher & Associates