Poll: Jersey shore needs more bathrooms

June 23, 2011 4:59:43 AM PDT
Ever wonder what the No. 1 issue is for visitors to the Jersey shore? A new poll finds it's where to go to the bathroom.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday finds that for state residents, the beach, the boardwalk or Atlantic City are their favorite destinations for a New Jersey vacation. But that same poll overwhelmingly shows New Jerseyans want more bathrooms near the beach.

Eighty-three percent of respondents to the poll said the state should require shore towns to provide restrooms at the beach. They are common at large resort areas such as the Wildwoods, Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant Beach and Ocean City. But some smaller shore towns don't provide bathrooms, and others ban food and drinks from the sand as well, placing them all but off-limits to anyone except locals.

Women, in particular, said they want more restrooms at the beach, with 86 percent calling for more toilets. Men were close behind at 80 percent.

"Voters of every stripe want bathrooms at the beach," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Connecticut.

The poll also asked New Jerseyans if they feel it's easy enough to get to a beach in the Garden State. The results were split, with 48 percent saying shore towns impose too many barriers to getting to the beach and 43 percent saying there is adequate access.

The state is in the process of rewriting its beach access rules.

It says it is letting individual towns craft their own access policies rather than dictating a one-size-fits-all approach.

That decision has drawn opposition from many beachgoers, who don't trust shore towns to ensure the right of everyone to use the beaches.

Bob Martin, the state's environmental protection commissioner, said New Jersey had to act after an appeals court struck down more restrictive rules in 2008 that mandated access points every quarter-mile along the coast, as well as parking and restrooms near the beach.

"We believe it's a fundamental right for all the people of New Jersey to be able to access the tidal waters and beaches," Martin told The Associated Press. "We believe very strongly we're going to have better access as a result of this."

The biggest objection to the status quo comes from people who live near the shore. Fifty-five percent of this group said there is not enough public access to the shore. Urban residents felt the opposite way, with 46 percent of them indicating there is enough public beach access, versus 41 percent who said more is needed.

The survey queried 1,610 registered voters from June 14-19 and has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

Overall, 45 percent of respondents said New Jersey is a fairly good place to take a vacation, with an additional 35 percent rating it as very good.