Friday, September 29, 2023

Wildwood Eyes Law to end Motel Living; ‘Where Woud I Go?”

By Rick Racela

WILDWOOD — Residents who call motels and hotels home may have to find a new place to hang their hats.
The city is scheduled to vote Dec.14 on an ordinance that would limit staying in a hotel or motel for more than 30 days and make living in those properties a thing of the past.
The news came as a shock to one 30-year-old mother of two, who asked not to be identi-fied. She and her two children, age one and a half and three, have been living in a motel here since the second week of November.
“I have no place to go,” she told the Herald. “Everywhere else is too expensive and I don’t have that kind of money.”
She said that when she worked in a restaurant during the summer, she was able to afford a small apartment by splitting the rent with another coworker. Now that the restaurant is closed for the season, she said she relies on welfare.
“Staying in a motel room may not be the best, but I don’t want to move my kids. I thought we’d be okay to stay here until I could find work again,” she said as she hugged a grocery bag full of microwaveable meals. “Now I don’t know what to do.”
She added that the rising cost of living has caused many other low-income residents to seek shelter in motels. She said that she’s also aware of society’s view of “poor people.”
“Not all of us are drug users or criminals,” she said. “Hard times happen to everyone.”
According to the proposed ordinance, a hotel or motel would have to adhere to the follow-ing regulations:
• No transient visitor can occupy a hotel, motel or multiple dwelling establishment for more than 30 days and cannot extend their stay for longer than 30 days by moving into an-other unit within the same establishment.
• Maintain a registry with the name of each occupant and a principal residence of the oc-cupant. A valid drivers license or photo ID must be kept on file for confirmation and peri-odic inspections.
• The range of rates charged by the hotel or motel must be posted in a conspicuous place.
Mayor Ernie Troiano said the ordinance would press the issue of safety and an improved quality of life.
“Motel rooms are not designed for year-round occupancy,” he said.
Troiano acknowledges that individuals and families have historically turned to the motels once the summer season ended and they could not afford more suitable housing, but added that the situation is unacceptable and creates numerous public safety issues. He said that he remembered one hotel that had approximately 100 fire and police calls combined during the course of a year.
“A whole family should not be living in a motel unit that is designed for one or two peo-ple. You shouldn’t be living in a place where you can only cook with a hotplate or use an oven to heat a room,” said Troiano.
“One town can’t bear the responsibility of housing the county’s homeless,” he added. “The county, as a whole, needs to address the homeless situation.”
The city is still looking into how the new ordinance would apply to the proposed con-dotels, designed to be a combination of condominiums and hotel rooms.
If found in violation of the new laws, a motel owner can face fines ranging from $250 to $2,000 and possible imprisonment.
Last month, Galloway Township Council passed a similar ordinance. The township said that the new rules were designed to keep sex offenders and people with children from liv-ing in the same motels. Galloway’s ordinance will not be enforced for six months while the town tries to reach a compromise with hotel and motel owners.
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